NASA Solar Event in Broken Bow

The Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education (OAIRE) is partnering with NASA scientists and the Choctaw Nation to host a solar eclipse event on April 8 in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. 

The eclipse’s totality lasts from 1:45-1:50 p.m., within the broader range of 12:25-3 p.m. The event is open to the public, with eclipse glasses provided. Attendees can engage in STEM activities while researchers conduct a full-scale balloon flight campaign in preparation.

At sites along the eclipse path, Oklahoma State University student teams in the engineering track use innovative larger balloon systems to livestream video to the NASA eclipse website, observe in situ perturbations in atmospheric phenomena, and conduct individually designed experiments. Atmospheric science track teams make frequent observations by launching hourly radiosondes on helium-filled weather balloons. Student participants work with atmospheric science experts throughout the project.

In a release today, Oklahoma State University advises:

WHAT: During the weekend of April 8, OAIRE will conduct a flight campaign in southeastern Oklahoma to improve weather forecasting models during the solar eclipse. Balloon launches for enhanced data collection will occur overnight. Additionally, activities for the general public will be available during the event.

WHEN: Flight campaigns will happen April 6-8, the solar eclipse will occur April 8.

WHERE: Choctaw Nation Community Center 1346 E. Martin Luther King Dr., Broken Bow, OK 74728

DETAILS: NASA scientists from Goddard Space Flight Center will join OAIRE researchers to observe the eclipse, reaching totality at 1:45- 1:50 p.m. NASA Scientists and OAIRE researchers will be available throughout the weekend April 6-8 from 1-4 p.m. This will be the first full total eclipse to cross the United States since 2017.

Optometric physicians are warning that improper viewing can cause permanent eye damage. The only time it is safe to view an eclipse without a filter is during the brief period when the sun is completely blocked out.

Eye doctors do not discourage Oklahomans from watching the solar eclipse, but rather warn them to use proper vision wear and eye protection.

“[Eclipse events can] be really fun, but it’s important for people to understand that normal sunglasses are not adequate for viewing a partial solar eclipse,” said Dr. Welch, president of the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians (OAOP) told Tulsa Today in August 2017. “Contrary to popular belief, neither are most of the homemade eclipse viewers that many adults remember from their childhood. Even many welding glasses are not safe. The best and most practical way to view this eclipse is through special purpose solar filters, or ‘eclipse glasses.’ These are inexpensive and easy to find with most local optometrists.”

Improperly viewing the eclipse can cause immense and permanent damage. Because the retina has no pain receptors and the sun can damage the eyes quickly, individuals may not even know they are being harmed.

As the day nears, other media should carry the warning. Enjoy, with care.

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