CGCC professor traveling to see eclipse, explains what astronomers will study from phenomena

Astronomer Angel Fuentes is ready to witness what he calls an 'event of a lifetime.'

Fuentes is a professor with the Chandler Gilbert Community College Department of Astronomy. He says this solar eclipse is so remarkable because it's going to be visible from coast to coast.

"I'll be in southern Illinois. I'll be in the little town of Steeleville, because I want to see the total eclipse happen. In Arizona, it's only going to be a partial, about 65 percent, but where I am going in Illinois, it will be full, 100 percent. The day will turn into night for two minutes and 30 seconds and it will be quite amazing," Fuentes said.

What's amazing to Fuentes and his colleagues are the invaluable lessons they will learn from the event.

"Some of the best things we can learn from it is the behavior of the corona, the outer layer of the sun. We can also learn about Einstein's theory of general relativity. If we've done the experiment before, it worked. We know it works. We can test many things about, you know, physics and astronomy using the eclipse," Fuentes said.

"You can just make your own pin hole camera. You just need a plain old cardboard box," said Alicia Gonzales, also a professor at CGCC.

She says this time around, most everyone is interested in viewing the eclipse. Both Gonzales and Fuentes suggest using a pin hole camera, even home made versions, to watch the eclipse safely.

"We're going to study the rotation of the sun that day, if there are sun spots we can see, and we are also going to be studying the eclipse itself. How the moon moves, why does it do this," Gonzales said.

As for Fuentes, always the educator, the two minutes and 30 seconds he spends in dark on August 21 will serve as the best lesson he ever took and taught.

CGCC will hold an eclipse viewing party on August 21 from 9 a.m. until noon, right outside Ironwood Hall.