August 11, 2017 12:08 PM

Millikin professor talks Solar Eclipse experience

The total solar eclipse will be making its way across the U.S. on Monday, Aug. 21. Many times a solar eclipse only passes over a portion of the U.S., however this time the eclipse will pass over the entire country, from the northwest to the southeast.

In a recent interview with NowDecatur WSOY, Dr. Casey Watson, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Millikin University, says the last time an event like this occurred was before the United States was even a nation. Dr. Watson says it will still be a unique experience in the Decatur, Ill., area.

Casey Watson

"In Decatur it won't be a full eclipse, but it will be quite dark, you should be able to see stars, but there will still be a sliver of sun visible, so it's very dangerous to look at the partial eclipse," said Dr. Watson. "While it should look like twilight in the evening here in Decatur, in the Carbondale (Ill.) area it will look dark."

The eclipse will be visible in Decatur starting at 11:52 a.m. The highest blockage will be at 1:19 p.m. and the event will be over by 2:44 p.m.

Millikin faculty and students are preparing to host a number of events for the eclipse, including a public viewing on the Miller Quad on Millikin's campus. Millikin will have at least three telescopes and 500 pairs of solar glasses available for general viewing. The public viewing will open at 11:30 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. Millikin Natural Science faculty and students will be on hand to operate the telescopes and answer questions. 

Millikin faculty members Dr. Daniel Miller, professor of mathematics; Dr. Watson; Johnny Power, art adjunct professor; and John Werner, physics adjunct faculty member, will be traveling to Glendo State Park in Wyoming, Aug. 16-23, to lead a nightly public viewing of the eclipse and engage in outreach opportunities and science experiments. A few Millikin students and one alumni, Dr. Robert Arn '10, will also be making the trip.

Requarth Observatory

Requarth Observatory

Housed on the fifth and sixth floors of the Leighty-Tabor Science Center on Millikin University's campus, the Requarth Observatory was built in 2000 and is the largest publicly available telescope in Illinois. All three 300 lb. support sections that hold the 20" (.5 meter) telescope were carried up six flights of stairs by hand.

In addition to the main telescope, the Leighty-Tabor Science Center also features an observation deck on the fifth floor that surrounds the base of the dome. This observation deck provides the perfect platform to set up the smaller 8" telescopes that are commonly used in introductory astronomy classes.

The observatory was dedicated on April 11, 2002, in honor of William H. "Bill" Requarth, M.D., '35. Bill Requarth, M.D., a member of the Millikin Class of 1935, made his career as a Decatur surgeon from 1950 through 1983 and a private commodities trader thereafter.