Astronomer readies local students for Great American Eclipse

For the first time in about 100 years, a total solar eclipse will cross the country in August. On Monday, an astronomer told local students what they can expect to see during a celestial event called the Great American Eclipse.

Jay Pasachoff, director of Hopkins Observatory at Williams College in Massachusetts, is a visiting scientist at Caltech. He visited Monte Vista Elementary School in La Crescenta, where his granddaughter Lily Kezsbom is in the first grade.

Pasachoff said he was glad he could drum up excitement about the eclipse, which will take a “path of totality” from Oregon to South Carolina on Aug. 21, when the moon will completely obscure the sun over portions of those two states as well as Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina.

Locally, students can expect to see a partial eclipse, Pasachoff said.

“Seeing an eclipse can just be inspiration,” he said. “It’s so special. It can make kids pay attention to their studies of all kinds, realizing that they can understand the universe.”

He advised Monte Vista students that they should protect their eyes during the event. The school’s PTA plans to give each student a pair of filtered glasses to see the moon obscure the sun.

Pasachoff himself plans to view the eclipse in Salem, Ore., where clear weather is forecasted in August. Lily plans to join him on the expedition.

He told students that, seven years from now, they’ll have a chance to see another total solar eclipse when it passes through Texas and northeastward to Maine in 2024.

Pasachoff said he is not sure where he’ll view it then; it depends on weather forecasts.

Before then, he may travel to Chile to view the next total solar eclipse in 2019.

kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

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