Durham County

Want more out of ‘your’ eclipse? Durham museum to make it an all-day adventure

The Museum of Life and Science, 433 W. Murray Ave., will observe the Monday, Aug. 21 solar eclipse with activities exploring heliophysics, the study of the sun, and a solarscope viewing party. Activities will begin at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 21 and end at 4 p.m.

All activities are included with general museum admission.

Families are invited to spend the day experimenting together as they explore the celestial mechanics of a solar eclipse, relate size and distance in space, and test different materials to determine how well they protect from the sun’s UV rays. Educators will also guide families in the creation of their own pinhole viewer, a safe way to view the eclipse for those unable to purchase eclipse glasses.

The museum is sold out of eclipse glasses, but guests participating in the day’s events will have two options for safely viewing the maximum partial eclipse: a community viewing party with solarscopes and a live stream of eclipse sites from across the country in The Lab and Magic Wings Butterfly House.

Families can join the museum’s education team on the plaza of the Butterfly House to view the eclipse as a group using 50 shared eclipse glasses and two solarscopes. “This is a great option for viewing the eclipse together as a family, especially if you have been unable to secure a pair of eclipse glasses,” said Karyn Perdue, education program manager for The Lab. “Solarscopes actually allow you to see the sun in greater detail. You can often make out sunspots on the surface and since the image is projected onto a screen, your field of view includes the entire sun.”

Guests are welcome to watch the eclipse on their own from anywhere on the museum’s 84-acre campus with proper eye protection, such as personal eclipse glasses. While there might appear to be a lack of sunlight, looking directly at the sun during an eclipse will damage your eyesight. Those interested in watching the eclipse are encouraged to do so only if they are using devices such as pinhole viewers or eclipse glasses. Solar eclipse glasses use lenses which reduce the amount of transmitted light to safe levels and are the only eyewear approved for use during eclipse events.

For those unable to attend the Museum's upcoming eclipse event, a step-by-step guide for creating a simple pinhole viewer to safely view the occurrence can be downloaded at lifeandscience.org/assets/2348/diy_pinhole_viewer.pdf.

Cliff Bellamy: 919-419-6744, @CliffBellamy1