Oliver C. Dawson stadium

South Carolina State University will be a prime location to view the total solar eclipse, and the university is preparing several attractions at its Oliver C. Dawson football stadium. 

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A free public event to view the eclipse will be held on the campus of South Carolina State University.

Monday's total solar eclipse, a unique experience that only occurs about every 100 years, will see the bright afternoon sky go dark for more than two minutes.

In Orangeburg, totality will begin shortly after 2:43 p.m. and last for more than two minutes and 20 seconds. Both before and after totality, the city will experience the partial eclipse phases as the moon slowly moves between the sun and Earth starting after 1 p.m. and lasting until about 4 p.m. 

Even if the skies are cloudy, the day will turn to night.

S.C. State will be a prime location to view this nearly once-in-a-lifetime celestial event, and the university is preparing for a full celebration featuring several attractions at its Oliver C. Dawson football stadium.

Entertainment will be offered from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m, and eclipse glasses will be provided to those attending the Solar Eclipse Viewing Party while supplies last.

James McClinton, enrollment marketing director for S.C. State, said the university ordered almost 11,000 pairs of solar eclipse viewing glasses.

“We’ll have a lot of activities going on,” McClinton said.

Various educational activities related to the sun and solar energy will be held in the stadium, and special solar projection telescopes will be set up for the public to view magnified images of the sun.

Also, a pinhole viewer craft station will give those attending an opportunity to build a colorful pinhole projector, which can be used to safely view a projection of the solar eclipse.

In addition, people will be able to let their creative lights shine by creating artistic images of the solar corona.

A “NASA & the EM (Electromagnetic) Spectrum” booth will provide information on the light from the sun, both visible and invisible. Information about NASA and the agency’s activities on campus will be presented as well.

As part of the activities, the S.C. State University Health Professions Society will provide information about skin cancer, sunburns and how to protect the skin from the sun.

Students from the university's nuclear engineering program will provide information about alternative energy forms including solar and nuclear energy.

Those attending will also be able to watch a balloon launch conducted by a group of University of Alabama students who plan to use the balloon to record a video of the solar eclipse as part of a nationwide science project led by NASA.

The balloon will rise 100,000 feet in the air, high enough to see the curvature of the earth and will send live video of the eclipse to a website as part of the NASA Space Grant network’s Eclipse Ballooning Project.

S.C. State serves as South Carolina’s lead institution for the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse Experiment (CATE) national project. The university, along with six other sites in the state, will record images of the sun before and during totality. The combined images collected from the approximately 70 sites across the country, from Oregon to South Carolina, will provide a 90-minute video of totality.

Dr. Donald K. Walter, S.C. State astronomer and physicist, is serving as the state’s lead scientist, coordinating teams from Clemson University, Lander University, Coker College, OCtech and two citizen-scientist sites.

Vendors will also be at the university during the eclipse event.

Additionally, attendees will be able to enjoy special performances featuring the Marching 101, the Sapphire Pom Squad and the S.C. State cheerleaders.

Leading up to Monday, the university will be showing safety webinars titled “Safe Eclipse Viewing” by Doug Duncan, an astronomer with Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado.

The webinars will be held in the Miller F. Whittaker Library’s Smart Classroom on campus at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19 and at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20.

Free eclipse glasses will be given to the first 40 people attending each show.

For more information the S.C. eclipse celebration, call Doris Johnson Felder at 803-536-8640 or 803-536-8645.

The solar eclipse will be the first in nearly a century to occur in the United States, passing along a path that will extend coast to coast.

McClinton said the S.C. State campus will be a great place for people of all ages to “be a part of a once in a lifetime experience.”

Contact the writer: jmack@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516.

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T&D Staff Writer

John Mack is a 2016 graduate of Claflin University. He is an Orangeburg native.

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