Craters plans eclipse-related events

In this May 20, 2012, file photo, the annular solar eclipse is seen as the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains from downtown Denver. Destinations are hosting festivals, hotels are selling out and travelers are planning trips for the total solar eclipse that will be visible coast to coast on Aug. 21, 2017. A narrow path of the United States 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina will experience total darkness, also known as totality. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve will host a variety of events in conjunction with the Aug. 21 eclipse.

Although Craters isn’t directly in the path of totality its staff is partnering with the city of Arco, NASA and Idaho State University to provide a special viewing opportunity in nearby Arco, a Craters news release said.

Numerous special events at Craters of the Moon will be held leading up to and following the eclipse:

Pre-eclipse events

Aug. 18-20, star parties, 9 p.m. to late

Join experts from the Idaho Falls Astronomical Society to “experience the universe under our naturally dark skies,” the release said. Opportunities for solar viewing will be available at the visitor center both days. At 9 p.m. each evening there will be a presentation about the night sky at the campground amphitheater. Visitors can then head to the Caves Area parking lot for telescope viewing of the skies above.

Aug. 19, “Eclipses, Transits and the Search for Life,” 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

NASA scientist Steve Howell will give a presentation about the history and current state of the discovery of exoplanets, planets orbiting alien suns. Starting with ground-based telescopic observations and the ongoing NASA Kepler and K2 missions, Howell will highlight “the most fundamental, important and bizarre discoveries yet made,” the release said. “The finding that small, rocky planets, such as the Earth, are common throughout the Galaxy has led scientists and NASA to undertake exciting new explorations of the night sky and begin the search for life outside the Earth.” Howell’s presentation will take place in the campground amphitheater.

Aug. 20, “In the Shadow of the Moon,” 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

NASA scientist/educator Brian Day, of NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute, will give an eclipse presentation at the visitor center theater. He will discuss what a solar eclipse is, and examine the various types of eclipses. He will discuss what to look for as “a lot will be happening in a short time, and you will not want to miss any of it,” the release said. The essential steps for safety in viewing a solar eclipse also will be covered. Day will share his experiences and adventures as an umbraphile, having witnessed eight previous total solar eclipses around the world.

Bottolfsen Park (Arco)

Aug. 19, USC-NASA solar eclipse high altitude balloon, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

University of Southern California astronautical engineering students and Adjunct Associate Professor Michael Kezirian will lead a discussion, starting at 8 a.m., on the USC/NASA high altitude balloon mission and discuss the engineering and science impacts of their atmospheric mission, the release said. USC is one of 54 teams that will launch a high altitude balloon to collect and live-stream video of the total solar eclipse from 100,000 feet altitude. The team will launch its balloon at 10:30am. The mission is timed so that the USC/NASA balloon will be at the correct altitude when the eclipse occurs. The Saturday high altitude balloon is a test flight in preparation for the solar eclipse on Monday.

Eclipse Day/Aug. 21

Bottolfsen Park (Arco)

USC-NASA solar eclipse high altitude balloon, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The USC high altitude balloon team will launch its balloon at 10:30 a.m. The launch is timed so that the balloon will be at the correct altitude when the eclipse occurs. The team will monitor the flight through telemetry, real-time video and image from the balloon. Immediately following the eclipse, the team will recover the science instrumentation and return to the ground station in order to review the collected data. At 4 p.m. the USC team will present preliminary results from its flight and discuss the data collected from their payload.

Introduction to the eclipse focusing on safe viewing, 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m

Eclipse-viewing glasses available for purchase from the Craters of the Moon Natural History Association at the visitor center.

Eclipse viewing, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Partial eclipse begins at 10:13 a.m.; Totality from 11:31:03 a.m. to 11:32:42; partial eclipse continues until approximately 12:30 p.m.

Special announcement, 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Craters of the Moon Superintendent Wade Vagias.

Space science exhibition, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Visitors can learn about research at Craters of the Moon from NASA scientists affiliated with the Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration (FINESSE) research program. Stations will include displays and information about spectrometers, exoplanets, Korean astronomy and a simulated volcanic eruption.

Craters of the Moon campground amphitheater

Lunar Rangers, 7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Children can earn a Lunar Ranger patch by participating in fun activities. The activity is “fun for kids and their parents,” the release said.

NASA Research at Craters of the Moon, 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

NASA Scientist and Idaho State University Volcanologist Scott Hughes will give a presentation about space science research at Craters of the Moon. Two NASA-funded research projects are utilizing Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve as an analog for other planetary bodies. One project, Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration (FINESSE) has research scientists, students, and teachers evaluating volcanic features to learn more about their physical and chemical properties in order to better understand similar features found on the moon, the moons of Mars and even some large asteroids. The second project, Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains (BASALT) has a mixture of scientists, engineers, mission designers, and astronauts that develop and run simulated daily field excursions on “Mars-like” terrains. Each daily excursion involves collecting scientific data as well as developing complex plans that astronauts will use when humans actually explore Mars. These two projects are tightly linked together and involve many individuals from universities and NASA research centers.

Post-eclipse Events: Aug. 24 and 25

Free admission to Craters of the Moon National Monument on Aug. 25 to celebrate the National Park Service’s 101st birthday!

Craters of the Moon visitor center

“View the Sun from the Moon,” 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visitors can safely observe the sun with special solar glasses and filtered solar telescopes in various wavelengths. The presentation is by the New Mexico Chapter of the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project.

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