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Gearing up for eclipse day

Gearing up for eclipse day

No, the Rogue Valley isn't in the path of totality for Monday's solar eclipse, but the 93 percent covering that will be visible here isn't anything to turn your nose up at.

If you want to partake in the almost-full-sun-snuff festivities, you're in for a decent view, even with the recent spate of wildfire smoke.

"We’ll probably see some smoke, but it’ll likely be OK," said National Weather Service meteorologist Brad Schaaf. "We’ll likely be able to see the eclipse as long as we have the proper protection to view it."

In our neck of the woods, the moon's shadow is expected to start covering the sun at about 9:03 a.m. in Medford, according to data from the Eclipse Wise website, www.eclipsewise.com.

At about 10:17 a.m., the shadow will be at its fullest, lasting for about two minutes before it starts to disappear. By about 11:37 a.m., it will be completely gone.

Some spots around the Rogue Valley are already gearing up for the big day.

ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum, which is hosting a viewing event, is out of the 750 pairs of eclipse-viewing glasses it purchased for the event, part of preregistration for patrons paying general admission for that day. That said, skywatchers can still attend, but they should be prepared to bump elbows with others while their shadows disappear.

"If people want to watch the eclipse from our lawn, they are welcome to do so, but traffic is going to be a bit of a zoo," ScienceWorks marketing manager Erin Scott said. "We are anticipating a large crowd."

Ashland's Northwest Nature Shop will also host a viewing event in its parking lot from about 9:30 to 11 a.m. at 154 Oak St., according to manager Terence Phillipe.

Roxy Ann Winery will host a viewing party from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at 3283 Hillcrest Road in Medford, according to its website.

During the eclipse — if you're too busy at work to step outside for a few minutes — you can catch the action online.

NASA will livestream the event online at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-live-stream. Images and video from multiple spacecraft, multiple NASA aircraft and 50-some high-altitude balloons launched along the thin band of totality will be available to view. One of those balloons will be launched from Dayville by a group of 10 North Medford High School students and four advisers, a group that has been preparing for the event for two years.

Southern Oregon University will host a viewing of the livestream at the RCC-SOU Higher Education Center's Presentation Hall, at the corner of Eighth and Bartlett streets in downtown Medford. The room has a capacity of 100 people, so it will be first-come, first-served. It starts at about 9 a.m., and will run for the full four hours, ending when the lunar shadow leaves the continental U.S.

The stream will be projected on a 15-by-9-foot screen. A smaller screen will be available for viewing in a nearby overflow room, according to Jeanne Stallman, SOU executive director of outreach and engagement. You can step out to see the real deal, but you risk a potential loss of your seat.

"I'm expecting people to come and go," Stallman said.

Wherever you decide to view the historic event, having proper eye protection is vitally important. Regular sunglasses don't offer full protection from the sun's rays, and users of specialized protective eyeware should make sure the glasses meet ISO 12312-2 standards, which should be outlined on the product.

The specialized glasses have proved challenging to track down in our area, but there is an alternative for safe viewing: a pinhole projector you can build with just two pieces of paper. Take one piece and make a small, smooth hole in the middle using a pin or a tack. You can then hold that paper up, allowing the sun's rays to project through the pinhole onto a second piece of paper. This will project an image of the eclipse onto the second piece.

Other safe viewing methods and general eclipse information are available at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov.

— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

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