West Virginians are ready to look skyward Monday.
Armed with special dark-tinted glasses, thousands of state residents are ready to safely watch the solar eclipse.
The credit goes to West Virginia University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy for making that possible.
They were determined to bring “The Great American Eclipse” to as many people as possible.
Thanks to a joint effort with WVU Extension, an online fundraising campaign exceeded its $2,000 goal by $146.
Generous donors enthusiastically supported plans to help state youth appreciate the importance of this natural phenomenon, and share it with others.
After all, it’s not everyday the sun is eclipsed by the moon.
This grassroots effort has since made its mark in a big way.
Eclipse glasses (needed to safely look into the sun) were distributed to 6th graders, 4-H campers and community members.
The goal was to help them appreciate this major planetary event without even having to leave home.
It’s notable because this is the first total solar eclipse visible in the United States in the 21st century, and it can be seen across the entire country.
And it’s been 26 years since even a partial solar eclipse was visible from West Virginia.
While West Virginia is not directly in the path of the upcoming solar eclipse, most locations will experience an 80-90 percent eclipse.
When it happens only 10 percent of the sun’s light will be visible from behind the moon.
Best viewing spots are expected to be in southern communities, including Vallscreek in McDowell County, which should see 93.13 percent at 2:37 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
Eastern Panhandle residents will not be as fortunate, with Marlowe in Berkeley County seeing only 80.16 percent at 2:40 p.m.
It will start in Huntington at 1:06 p.m., and end in Martinsburg at 3:59 p.m.
The best overall time to see the eclipse is 2:33-2:41.
Rest assured, people will be looking.
“We received 425 requests before we had to shut down our request form, and I’m still getting emails from people asking for more,” said Kathryn Williamson, planetarium manager and astronomy outreach coordinator.
“We’re distributing 30,000 glasses through 4-H, the Green Bank Observatory, requests from schools and through outreach at WVU.”
“The eclipse is the central focus of the 4-H Summer Science Experiment,” she said, adding the planetarium expects lots of 4-H groups across the state to be ready to observe the eclipse.
Continued outreach efforts include hosting a pre-eclipse event tomorrow from 9 a.m. to noon at WVU’s White Hall on Willey Street in Morgantown.
Organizers expect 500 people for this preview event, which will include mini-lectures, planetarium shows, and telescope viewing.
WVU student volunteers will be outside the Mountainlair Tuesday to engage passersby.
The observatory at Green Bank will host hands-on activities from 11 a.m. until noon, lunch and exhibits from noon until 1 p.m. . Safe eclipse viewing through telescopes and projections is also part of the afternoon’s activities.
Green Bank will broadcast a live streaming video of the eclipse (provided by NASA) from 1-4 p.m. on Aug. 21.
Anyone still needing to purchase eclipse glasses can consult vendors recommended by the American Astronomical Society online at www.eclipse.aas.org.
To learn more about the eclipse visit www.GreatAmericanEclipse.com.