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Sky gazers arriving at Boysen campgrounds

Aug 17, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The state park is expected to be a prime viewing area for the eclipse.

A series of star gazing and solar viewing programs begin Friday at Boysen State Park and will continue through the Great American Eclipse on Monday.

Located in the area of totality, where the sun will be completely obscured by the moon, Boysen is expected to be a prime viewing area for the eclipse - especially since the park is devoid of light pollution.

Visitors to Boysen are encouraged to come to the park early, as the first-come, first-serve campgrounds will fill up quickly.

Superintendent John Bass said there still were several sites available Thursday, though people have started to arrive from out of state.

"We had probably three or four campers come in Aug. 8 because we have a 14 day stay limit," he said. "They came in Aug. 8 and got themselves where they wanted to be."

All of his reservable campsites have been booked since last October, he noted, with most of those campers scheduled to arrive Friday. Regardless, Bass said people are still calling to ask about availability.

"The phones have been ringing off the hook," Bass said. "We have tons of calls from all over the United States."

Day use areas will be available for eclipse viewing as well. There will be a fire ban in place on the west side of Boysen, though people can use the fire rings on the east side of the reservoir.

"We're banning any uncovered, open flame on the west side," Bass said. "It's really dry over there (and there will be) lots of crowds."

Programs

Boysen staff have activities planned throughout the weekend including interpretive hikes, stargazing parties, and campfire lectures.

All eclipse events will convene at the Tough Creek Campground and Lakeside Area.

The first star gazing gathering is 8-10 p.m. Friday. A solar viewing program is 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday followed by another star gazing party 8-10 p.m.

The schedule repeats itself Sunday, when Danny Dale, a University of Wyoming professor and head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, will lead the evening star party.

"(That) means letting folks look through the telescope and explaining what they are seeing," he said.

He'll do the same thing Monday during the daytime eclipse.

UW will also participate in the Citizen Continental America Telescopic Eclipse experiment, or Citizen CATE, from Boysen during the eclipse.

For the Citizen CATE Experiment, scientists, students and volunteers will track the sun using 68 identical telescopes, software and instrument packages spaced along the path of totality.

Each site will produce more than 1,000 images.

Both UW and Sierra Trading Post, the title sponsor of the Wyoming State Parks eclipse programming, will be handing out free eclipse glasses Monday, and "UW-emblazoned eclipse T-shirts" will be available, along with telescopes provided by Meade Instruments, another Wyoming State Parks Eclipse sponsor.

Path of the eclipse

A total solar eclipse is when the moon's shadow touches the Earth and blankets portions of it in total darkness for a few moments. In essence, the sun, moon and Earth align. A person in the dark part of that shadow, known as the umbra, will see a total eclipse. A person in the light part, called the penumbra, will see a partial eclipse.

The shadow crosses Pavillion at 11:38 a.m. and Shoshoni and Riverton at 11:39 a.m. for about 2 minutes, 23 seconds.

During portions of the eclipse where the sun is only partially covered and visible, safety glasses are advised. When it gets fully covered, meaning the moon is in front of and blocking out the sun, it will be safe to view the solar eclipse with the naked eye.

The University of Wyoming and Wyoming State Parks contributed to this report.

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2017-10-18

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