Experts explain science behind eclipse to Vienna students - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Experts explain science behind eclipse to Vienna students

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WSIL -- Sten Odenwald has studied astronomy for decades. He's published books, appeared in documentaries and taught thousands of people around the world about space. But one thing he's never done is witness a total solar eclipse in person.

"I've been an astronomer for 40 years and this is my first total solar eclipse ever," said Odenwald. 

He will finally experience one on Monday afternoon, when the Great American Eclipse briefly turns daylight to night across the country.

Despite never seeing a total eclipse with his own eyes, Odenwald still knows the science behind it. He and other experts shared some of that wisdom with students in Vienna on Thursday. It was part of an eclipse field day put on by Vienna Schools in partnership with Rend Lake College and SIU.

"Basically I want to remind them of why we have eclipses, why this one is sort of unique for this area," said Odenwald. 

Students also learned how to safely view and capture photos of the eclipse.

Vienna High School senior Quinn McBride says those lessons will come in handy on Monday.

"I'm actually very excited for it. I've been hearing about it since last April," said McBride.

But McBride worries some of his classmates don't recognize the opportunity they will have.

"Not everyone in the country gets this experience, but to everyone here it kind of just feels like something that's happening," said McBride. "We're all still fairly young, so everyone doesn't have the appreciation for it."

That could change on Monday, when the universe puts on a show that promises to leave even experts like Odenwald in awe.

"Total solar eclipses have always been a very unique event and I'm hoping the takeaway from this is the sense of awe and amazement at how rare and unique the event is," said Odenwald. "That emotion connects them with 10,000 years of humans watching the same event."

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