Dalton State Plans Solar Eclipse Program, Field Trip


A total solar eclipse is a rare and wondrous event immortalized in song and mythology. To help folks better understand the science and lore surrounding the astronomical event that will occur on Aug. 21, Dalton State has planned an educational program as well as a field trip to see the eclipse live and in person.

The program, free and open to all, will be Wednesday, Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. in Goodroe Auditorium.  At that time Dr. Samantha Blair, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, will cover the science of a solar eclipse which occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun.  Dr. Christian Griggs, associate professor of history, will share amusing and amazing stories of human responses to solar eclipses through the ages.

This summer’s eclipse will be a rare total solar eclipse that will sweep across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. Areas in the direct path of the eclipse will experience total darkness in the middle of the day when the nearby moon appears to completely obscure the distant sun. The darkness will come on suddenly and will confuse animals such as roosting birds and crowing roosters.

While Dalton is near the path of the eclipse, it will experience only a partial eclipse, but middle Tennessee is directly in the path of totality, meaning towns there will experience total darkness for a period of time in the middle of the afternoon.

“For many of us this will be a once in a lifetime event,” said Dr. Randall Griffus, dean of the School of Science, Technology, and Mathematics. “We are truly fortunate to live so close to the path of totality where without much effort we can actually travel to see this awe-inspiring event.”

College officials have chartered a motor coach to transport science and nature lovers to Englewood, Tenn., which will experience two and a half minutes of total eclipse – about as long as anywhere in the country.

The bus trip to see the eclipse is open to all; the price is $25 which will cover transportation and a pair of eclipse glasses, special spectacles that allow the wearer to gaze safely at the eclipsing sun.

The bus will leave from the Dalton Convention Center parking lot at 10 a.m. and will stop for lunch (on your own) at the Tellico Junction Café in Englewood at 11:30 a.m. Following lunch the group will gather in a nearby park to watch the westward sky which will begin experiencing effects of the eclipsing sun for a while before the total eclipse at about 2:30 p.m.

To reserve a seat on Dalton State’s Solar Express, contact Pam Partain at 706-272-2985.