Maria Mitchell Association Hosting Solar Eclipse Events On Nantucket

Nantucket Current •

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The June 2021 partial solar eclipse over the Sankaty Head Lighthouse. Photo by Kit Noble

The Maria Mitchell Association is planning programming to assist the Nantucket community to safely enjoy the upcoming solar eclipse on Monday, April 8th.

The total solar eclipse - when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned in such a way that the disk of the sun is completely blocked by the Moon’s disk - will traverse the North American continent. On Nantucket, residents will see an 87 percent partial solar eclipse, as the island is not quite in the path of totality.

To celebrate the astronomical phenomenon, the MMA is hosting a series of events this week and on the day of the eclipse on Monday. The programs will be led by Dr. Regina Jorgeson, MMA Director of Astronomy; August Muller and Emmy Wisz, current MMA astronomy post-baccalaureate research fellows; and Celia Mulcahey and Fiona Powers Özyurt, former MMA astronomy post-baccalaureate research fellows.

Over the course of this week leading up to the eclipse, the MMA partnered with Nantucket Public Schools to ensure that all students in the district are prepared to safely view the eclipse. Nantucket Elementary and Intermediate schools hosted MMA guest astronomy educators, alongside district teachers, to provide a hands-on opportunity to learn about eclipses, eclipse-centered activities, and the steps to safely view a solar eclipse.

At Cyrus Peirce Middle School and Nantucket High School, MMA astronomers will lead an interactive workshop-style presentation on eclipses and their safe viewing. 

On Saturday, April 6, the MMA will lead several hands-on activities for the community such as making pinhole projectors and eclipse models. At the Hinchman House Natural Science Museum, "junior astronomers," ages three through 11, can also enjoy "Astro-Story Hour" and a free eclipse workshop.

The MMA Solar Eclipse Week will culminate on the day of the eclipse at Nantucket High School’s old baseball field at 2:45 p.m. The MMA, Nantucket Public School District, Nantucket Community School, and the Nantucket Boys’ and Girls’ Club will collaborate to ensure that all students can safely view the eclipse on-site by providing safe solar eclipse glasses to each student prior to dismissal. Students will be given the opportunity to walk over to the field where MMA astronomy staff will facilitate a variety of safe, sun observation methods, view live feeds of the total eclipse, answer questions, and lead various enrichment activities for students. All local students and families are welcome to attend.

The event is free and open to the public, and of course, is weather permitting.

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