Get ready for Mother Nature’s big show

Friday, August 18, 2017

People who are interested in watching the upcoming solar eclipse on Monday and want to be part of activities centered around experiencing the event may want to visit the Fort Scott National Historic Site.

The public is invited to experience the rare occasion with FSNHS rangers on the fort’s parade ground. Attendees will gather to watch the sun hide behind the moon, darkening the sky, during the first total solar eclipse seen in the U.S. in 26 years.

From 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., attendees can explore the science behind an eclipse, create their own eclipse during a craft activity, earn an Eclipse Junior Ranger badge, learn about proper eye safety, and take part in other activities.

“We’re doing this because of the eclipse and it’s a rare occasion,” FSNHS Administrative Support Assistant Bridget Mann said. “This gives people somewhere to go watch it.”

Some people may even consider bringing picnic blankets and having lunch by moonlight on the fort grounds.

“It’s a neat twist to it,” Mann said.

The moon will begin blocking the sun about 11:45 a.m. with the eclipse ending about 2:30 p.m. The peak of the eclipse will occur at 1:05 p.m., when the sun will be almost completely covered. A limited supply of free protective glasses will be available to view the sun during the eclipse, a FSNHS news release said.

The solar eclipse will pass across the continental U.S. and its complete totality will be within 100 miles of Fort Scott, the release said.

“When it passes, you will see a sliver of the sun,” Mann said. “We will have some of the glasses available, but there’s such a high demand for them. We’ve just made kind of a fun event out of it. It’s almost an hour for the full top-to-bottom effect.”

Mann said the event will not feature guest speakers, but park rangers will be available to talk about the educational aspects of an eclipse. A craft activity using construction paper will give participants a chance to simulate the effects of an eclipse.

“It’s a little more youth oriented,” she said.

According to the news release, in 1918, the sun was out, then “like magic, it disappeared behind the moon, day turned to night and stars were visible in the sky.”

“This crazy phenomenon was a total solar eclipse which passed just to the south of Fort Scott,” the release said. “Now 99 years later, Fort Scott has the opportunity to see a similar total eclipse.”