Solar eclipse more than just what meets the eye

Introduction to science for younger generations
Posted at 12:38 AM, Aug 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 03:38:28-04

The solar eclipse is just around the corner, and while it will only be a partial one for us here in the valley, it's still an exciting event and a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people.

"It is a big deal," says Darren Bly with the Kern Astronomical Society. He's been been planning for this moment for ten years now.

"It's a neat thing, and it's not something that happens very often. It's an example of the universe working around you," he says. 

And for Bly, it's an opportunity to travel to Rigby, Idaho, to view the total solar eclipse, which he says he could not pass up.

"Seeing a partial eclipse is like getting to a show and finding the doors locked. Getting in, being in the front row, and seeing that show...that's totality," Bly says.

While most members of the Kern Astronomical Society will be traveling to the path of totality this weekend, some members, like Donald Belflower, will be staying right here at home to watch.

"I've got multiple solar scopes and stuff, so we're all going to meet in my front yard, have cookies and ice cream, and sit back and watch the solar eclipse," he says.

A viewing party where he and his friends will look through his seven telescopes all covered with the same filter you see on the special glasses.

"I'm excited for it," says Elizabeth McGill, a tenth grade student and member of the Kern Astronomical Society. "It's total darkness, that's what these glasses are right now. You can't see anything, only the sun."

McGill and her mother, Sally Belflower, are just a few of many to have their protective wear ready to go. Belflower, who is a kindergarten teacher, actually purchased enough glasses for her entire class so they could go outside and watch it together. 

"We will be talking about the importance of not viewing the sun unless you have the proper eyewear," she says.

Belflower says the students need to know what's going on and what's happening in our universe.

"I think it's important! They probably won't understand everything, but the more we expose them to and the more they hear it, that's when it will start to click for them," she says.

Ultimately, exposing people to scientific information is the main goal of the Kern Astronomical Society. They reach out to the community to share their interest and love of astronomy.

This is a great way to get younger generations interested in not only astronomy, but in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, just like it did for Andrea Lopez. She is the youngest president the Kern Astronomical Society has ever had.

"They are our future, so getting them interested in school and telling them that they can make careers out of the STEM fields will really give them the right path to good careers in the future and bring innovation for everybody. Our society as a whole will definitely grow as they grow," she says.

And it only takes one event like a solar eclipse to peak their interest. 

"If they have an interest in science, we need to nurture that interest. I think that's very, very important," Bly says.

He says there is a series of eclipses over the next 30 years, and any one of those could spark kids interest in science. He says they're never too young to start learning, just make sure you are doing it in a safe way, such as protecting your eyes during the eclipse on Monday.