LAURINBURG – Around 65 people of all ages turned out this week for Scotland County Memorial Library’s presentation “From Black Hole to Solar Eclipse.”
The talk was given by Jose D’Arruda a Physics Professor at UNC Pembroke.
Six-year-old Jesse Sprague and his father Jason attended the event because Jesse likes science.
“Technology is so cool, and I want to be a scientist when I grow up,” said Jesse who likes to watch “Myth Busters” and other scientific videos online.
D’Arruda humorously opened the presentation with the opening monologue from Star Trek and proceeded to regale the audience on the development of the universe from the big bang theory to the eventual death of the sun in five billion years.
D’Arruda told the audience that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is not the only galaxy in space.
“You will not only find hundreds of billions of stars in a galaxy, you will find hundreds of billions of galaxies in space,” he said.
He explained to those in attendance what scientists see when they look at other galaxies has already happened.
“Light takes a hundred thousand years to cross the Milky Way,” D’Arruda said. “When you look at stars in another galaxy, you’re looking back in time.”
The professor ended the presentation by explaining what a solar eclipse is and how to safely view one.
The audience learned about lunar and solar eclipses specifically the one that will take place in the U.S. on Aug. 21.
A solar eclipse occurs when the new moon is positioned between the Earth and sun, and a lunar eclipse happens when the Earth’s shadow falls on the full moon.
D’Arruda told the audience that there are three types of solar eclipse: total, partial, and annular. He also said that a planet passing between the Earth and sun will not block the sun due to the size of the sun. The planet will look like a spot on the sun.
Scientists can conduct experiments during eclipses that they cannot do at other times, according to D’Arruda.
The audience was even able to conduct an experiment with D’Arruda’s help. He passed out a penny to each person and held up a light. The temporary scientists were told to pass the penny in front of their eyes until the penny blocked the light. D’Arruda encouraged participants to take note of the phases of the light being blocked as the penny moved.
D’Arruda admonished participants to never look at a solar eclipse without proper protection because they could damage their eyes.
He passed out special glasses to view the eclipse and demonstrated how to use a pinhole projector to view the event.
Use two pieces of cardboard and poke a tiny-smooth hole in one. Face away from the sun and hold the piece of cardboard with the hole over the other so that the sun shines through the hole and reflects on the second piece.
D’ Arruda also took questions from the audience.
Riley Fedak, 7, asked D’Arruda if a star bigger than our sun could make a black hole because the professor mentioned during the presentation that our sun and other small stars would never become black holes once they collapse.
Madeline and Howard Whitehurst are astronomy buffs who use their telescope to track the International Space Station when it crosses our path. The couple traveled to see the total eclipse that took place in the US in the 1970s and plans to take a trip to see August’s event.
August’s eclipse will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. since 1979. The sun will be completely obscured by the moon for a short time. This is the first time in almost 100 years that a total eclipse will be visible across the continental U.S. from Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. To see the total eclipse viewers will need to be somewhere in a 70-mile-wide path along that line. Anyone outside of the 70 mile swath will see only a partial eclipse. The optimal spot for viewing is midway between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, according to D’Arruda.
Denise Dunn, children’s librarian, was “tickled pink” by the turnout.
“We’re hoping to plan an August 21 Solar Eclipse Party at the library with crafts and lots of other fun stuff,” Dunn said.
Today, the library is hosting Earth Day Craft Day from 2 to 4 p.m. The theme is Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Old magazines from the library will be used in the crafts.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169