SMU physics professors have devised a remarkable way to watch next Monday’s historic solar eclipse: They will use mirrors to turn the historic Dallas Hall Rotunda into a giant viewing chamber.
Weather permitting, Associate Professor of Physics Stephen Sekula will host for students and the public a homebrew viewing tunnel attached to a telescope on the lawn of Dallas Hall. The total eclipse of the sun will take place on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. The Rotunda event is sponsored by SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and the Department Physics.
The Rotunda image and the viewing tunnel will provide crisp images of the eclipse, and also correspond to NASA’s recommendation to avoid looking directly at the sun, Sekula said. Both methods eliminate the need for certified glasses to avoid eye damage. A surge in demand has made authentic safety glasses hard to find.
“There’s no sense risking your vision, and so this way you can come out and enjoy the eclipse without damaging your eyes,” he said.
Dallas is in the secondary shadow of the eclipse, not the primary shadow, so the region will not see the total phase of the eclipse, but rather 75 percent coverage.
“That’s still quite spectacular,” Sekula said, noting that peak viewing will be around 1:09 p.m. The partial eclipse begins in Dallas at 11:40 a.m. and ends at 2:39 p.m., according to NASA.
Wherever you and your students view the 2017 solar eclipse, don’t forget to observe these safety protocols, shared by SMU Health:
On Monday, Aug. 21, a historic total solar eclipse of the sun will be partially visible in North Texas from about 11:40 a.m. to about 2:40 p.m. NASA offers recommendations for safely viewing the event because of the potential dangers it poses to eyesight if precautions are not taken. Please see NASA.gov for information.