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Tennssee Tech named NASA viewing spot for total solar eclipse

Tennessee Tech Physics Chair Stephen Robinson is a NASA Subject Matter Expert and will be part of the guided eclipse viewing at Tennessee Tech’s Eclipse Fest and Viewing Party on August 21. Tech is a NASA Official Viewing Location for the event. (Tennessee Tech)

NASA named Tennessee Tech an official viewing area for the total solar eclipse, as Cookeville sits in the path of totality for the August event.

Tennessee Tech Astronomy Teacher Stephen Robinson has been inviting his students back to campus for 15 years to get a front row seat to the historic August 21 total solar eclipse.

“We understand the science and the mathematics of this so well that we can make predictions thousands of years into the future as to when and where eclipses are going to happen,” Robinson, chair of the physics department at Tech, said. “We have known that this was going to happen for many, many years.”

NASA named Robinson and Asst. Physics Professor Mary Kidd as subject matter experts for the eclipse.

“As a child, I was super interested in science through astronomy, and I was always interested in what was going on in the sky,” Kidd said. “To have a chance to see an eclipse, you’d normally have to travel so to have this opportunity right here locally is very exciting.”

“It is very rare, at least for our area, looking at the historical data and the predictions,” Robinson said. “This is the only one you are going to see in Cookeville for the next 500 years.”

Tennessee Tech is hosting an Eclipse Fest and Viewing party at Tucker Stadium August 21. The event is free to the public, and it will have booths, guided viewing and special viewing glasses for attendees.

“There will be four planets that you’ll be able to see at that time: Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Mars and some stars as well,” Kidd said.

Kidd and Robinson, along with members of Tech’s Physics Club will be there to guide spectators through the eclipse and how to view it safely.

“We want people to be able to see it because it really is a once in a lifetime thing,” Kidd said. “We are going to make sure they can view it safely and really understand what they are experiencing.”

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