The solar eclipse that'll be sweeping across the United States on August 21 will be darkening the skies of South Dakota. To celebrate this rare celestial event, The University of South Dakota Department of Physics is hosting a solar eclipse viewing party.

Organizers are planing to have two telescopes with solar filters tracking the sun as it progresses through the sky. People will also have the chance to talk with physics faculty and graduate students.

USD in Vermilion, South Dakota is expected to reach about 95% coverage during the height of the eclipse.

Joel Sander, assistant professor of physics at USD says that since eclipse day is also the first day of classes, he decided to mark the special day outside with the community.

“Good things are best shared with other people,” Sander said. “This total solar eclipse may be the most dramatic event in the sky to see in your lifetime and it connects you to past human history.”

Sander also emphasizes safety during the eclipse. Don't look directly at the sun with the naked eye. Use of eclipse glasses is necessary.

“You can’t see or feel the damage to your eyes when you look directly at the sun,” Sander said. “The only safe time to look at a solar eclipse is when the sun is 100 percent covered by the moon’s shadow.”

The eclipse viewing party is on Monday from 12:40 PM to 1:30 PM. The viewing event will be on the lawn on the east side of the Akeley-Lawrence Science Center. It is free and open to the public.

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