Where and how to view the August 21 solar eclipse
By Amanda Jermyn

What better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than to head outside and observe the beauty of a clear night sky? While nature puts on her celestial show for free there are also a number of organized stargazing activities in the area throughout the summer.

Of course, the big celestial event this summer is the solar eclipse, which will take place during the daytime on August 21st. While some other parts of the country will experience a total solar eclipse, in the Springfield area the eclipse will be partial. An organized eclipse-viewing event will be held at the Springfield Museums from 1pm to 4pm on August 21st, conducted jointly by museum staff and Stars Club members. For more information, and to find out times for the eclipse from any location, visit https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/springfield-ma. Wherever you plan to view the eclipse, it is important to remember that looking directly at the Sun without proper protection may damage or destroy the cells of the retina, causing temporary or permanent loss of vision. The eclipse may be safely viewed through a telescope equipped with a solar filter or by using a solar filter card, special eclipse-viewing glasses or Grade 14 welder’s glass. For more information on eye safety visit https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/safe-viewing.

As a follow-up to the eclipse, on Friday, September 8th at 7:30pm, the Springfield Stars Club and Springfield Science Museum will host “Stars over Springfield.” Alan Rifkin will moderate a discussion on “Reliving the Great American Eclipse.” A fee of $3 for adults and $2 for children under 18 will be charged.

Throughout the summer, when skies are clear, the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association will host the following free programs: solar observing on Saturdays at 1pm at Mount Pollux in Amherst; night sky observing on Saturdays at 9pm at the Amherst College Wilder Observatory; and observing on Sundays at sunset at Mount Pollux. For more information on these and other events visit http://www.astronomyassociation.org/.

This year, Stellafane, the 82nd Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers, will be held from July 20th to 23rd on Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont. This annual gathering gives amateur telescope makers an opportunity to show off their creations and teach one another about telescope making. The Keynote speaker will be Nagin Cox, Tactical Mission Lead on the Mars Curiosity Rover. Cox has worked on numerous robotic spacecraft, including Galileo, the Mars Exploration Rovers, and the Kepler Mission. Asteroid 14061 was named for her in 2015. Cox will talk about her experiences working with robotic spacecraft. Kristine Larsen, professor of geological sciences at Central Connecticut State University will deliver the Shadowgram address on “Messier Mania, Aperture Fever, and Eclipse-on-the-Brain, a Guide to Common Astronomical Ailments.” The Convention includes several other talks, as well as a workshop on “The Search for and Science of Exoplanets.” A key feature of the Stellafane Convention is the telescope competition, which gives amateur telescope makers a chance to compete for awards. In addition, there will be astronomy activities for children and teens. For more information visit http://stellafane.org/.

You may also want to consider attending the Rockland Astronomy Club’s Summer Star Party, organized by the Northeast Astronomy Forum, at the Peppermint Park Camping Resort in Plainfield, MA. Events are open to the public, and run from July 21st to 30th. Come for a night or stay for all ten days. Activities include talks, dinners, a live concert, demonstrations and stargazing, with telescopes available for dark sky observing. For more information visit

Another stargazing highlight is Arunah Hill Days at the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington from September 1st to 3rd. This family-oriented weekend includes stargazing, guided nature walks, flying saucer golf, model rocket building and launching, and science education. Several large telescopes will be available for nighttime viewing, and astronomers will conduct constellation orientation talks. Specially filtered telescopes will be used during daylight hours to reveal sunspots and solar prominences. The Friday evening talk will be about the construction, operation and ultimate failure of the Northampton to New Haven Canal. Friday night’s program concludes with “Really Bad Sci-Fi Theater,” hosted by Steve Pielock. There will also be an astronomy talk on Saturday night. All events are free and open to the public. For more information visit www.arunah.org or contact Barry Hervieux at bhervieux@comcast.net.

The 35th annual Connecticut River Valley Astronomers’ Conjunction runs from September 15th to 17th at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center in Northfield, MA. This convention will feature a variety of programs, including solar and nighttime viewing through telescopes and a buffet dinner. Presentations will include a look back at the historic 2017 total solar eclipse, with members of the audience encouraged to share their experiences inside the moon’s shadow. Other talks include “Saturday Morning Startoons – Part 2” by “Astronomy” magazine columnist Glenn Chaple, and “A Look at the James Webb Space Telescope” by Richard Nugent. For more information visit http://www.philharrington.net/astroconjunction or contact Richard Sanderson at rhs31416@yahoo.com.

Happy stargazing, and enjoy the wonders of the summer sky!