The National Park Service is distributing free eclipse glasses and free eclipse viewers at two viewing sites in Oak Ridge during the total solar eclipse today (Monday, August 21).
Several people were lined up for the free glasses by about 7:30 a.m. Monday at one of the viewing sites, the American Museum of Science and Energy and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park Visitor Center at 300 South Tulane Avenue in central Oak Ridge.
“I figured there would be a pretty long line,” said Thomas Metheney, an Anderson County resident. He said he may stay at AMSE for the eclipse. He recalls a solar eclipse when he was in elementary school in the area in the mid-1980s.
The National Park Service said it is giving out about 1,500 pairs of glasses at AMSE and will have more at its other viewing site, East Tennessee Technology Park (the former K-25 site) at 200 Heritage Center Boulevard in west Oak Ridge. As previously reported by Oak Ridge Today, the distribution of eclipse glasses and viewers starts at 11 a.m. at both locations. The Park Service is giving out one pair of glasses per person in line.
“The park will be offering two free viewing locations where park rangers will be distributing free eclipse glasses and free eclipse viewers that include a commemorative artistic rendering of the ‘All-American Total Solar Eclipse,’” the press release said. “Park rangers will also be discussing safe viewing practices and using enhanced viewing equipment to help visitors enjoy all phases of the eclipse.”
The partial phase of the eclipse will begin at approximately 1 p.m. and end at approximately 4 p.m. The totality phase of the eclipse will occur just after 2:30 p.m. in Oak Ridge.
The duration of the total eclipse at K-25 is expected to be 1:45 and start at 2:32:43 p.m. Eastern time and end at 2:34:28. The duration of the total eclipse at AMSE is expected to be 0:23 and start at 2:33:32 p.m. and end at 2:33:55 p.m.
Donna Babb of Oak Ridge was also at AMSE at about 7:30 a.m. Monday, hoping to “beat the line.”
Her family may go to Watts Bar Lake to watch the eclipse, including her middle school son and mother-in-law.
Babb said she remembers a partial eclipse in Chattanooga in the 1980s.
Emma McCaskill of Oak Ridge had been waiting since about 8:30 a.m. She saw people lining up for bus tours at AMSE and to get into the museum on Monday morning, and she thought she better get in line too.
“I saw people lining up over there,” McCaskill said.
She’s not paid much attention to eclipses before, and this is is the first one she’s been following.
McCaskill said she may go to the west end of Oak Ridge to watch the eclipse.
The 34-person bus tours that start at AMSE will stop at K-25 for the solar eclipse on Monday.
Oak Ridge is part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The total solar eclipse will cross the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The entire area of the park falls within the path of totality, according to an earlier press release.
The National Park Service said it will also have special Junior Ranger activities for kids.
Parking may be limited in both areas.
“Visitors are encouraged to carpool and arrive early to be present before the eclipse begins,” the earlier press release said. “To best enjoy viewing of the eclipse, please be prepared for hot summer conditions by bringing water, a hat, sunscreen, and a chair.”
Besides Oak Ridge, the Park Service also has activities at Lilly Bluff Overlook in Obed Wild and Scenic River, Obed Visitors Center in Wartburg, Bandy Creek Visitors Center at Big South Fork River and Recreational Area, and Crossville Visitors Center.
It’s the first solar eclipse over the continental United States since 1979. There are viewing sites in Oak Ridge, including the American Museum of Science and Energy, East Tennessee Technology Park, and University of Tennessee Arboretum. The National Park Service is distributing free eclipse glasses and free eclipse viewers at two of those viewing sites. Oak Ridge Schools is also making special arrangements, transporting students and providing eclipse glasses for the eclipse.
For more information, please contact the National Park visitor center at (423) 346-6294.
You can learn more about eye safety and other solar eclipse topics by visiting NASA online at http://eclipse2017.nasa.gov.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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