WINFIELD — A solar eclipse watch party, hosted by the natural sciences and mathematics division of Southwestern College, will be open to the public on Aug. 21.

The partial eclipse is set to occur about midday and all are invited to attend the event near the main college entrance on the west side of the Southwestern campus.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, and the shadow of the moon falls on the Earth’s surface.

For this eclipse, the moon’s shadow will race across the Earth’s surface from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States at speeds greater than 1,400 mph, according to Bob Gallup, professor of physics and mathematics.

“When viewed from Cowley County, the eclipse will start at 11:36 a.m.,” Gallup said. “Maximum eclipse will occur at 1:04 p.m., when 90 percent of the sun will be covered, and the eclipse will end at 2:32 p.m.”

A telescope will be used to project an image of the eclipse. In addition, personal eclipse projection cards and a limited supply of eclipse glasses will be available for use by participants.

Gallup stressed the importance of eye protection while viewing the eclipse.

“At no time will the eclipse be safe to view in Cowley County without adequate eye protection, and normal sunglasses are not sufficient,” he said. “Even at maximum eclipse, the 10 percent of the sun still visible will be able to cause serious and permanent eye damage.”

For more information about the eclipse or the watch party, contact Gallup by email at bob.gallup@sckans.edu.

Southwestern College is a private institution granting undergraduate and graduate degrees, and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. About 1,700 students attend classes at the main Winfield campus, at six professional studies sites in Kansas and Oklahoma or online around the world.

This information was provided by Southwestern College News Bureau Coordinator Charles Osen.