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Prepare for the Total Solar Eclipse with the Chemeketa Planetarium


The view from inside the Chemeketa Planetarium. The Planetarium hosts shows every Friday night. Photo by Saul Rodriguez.

On the morning of August 21, the sky will become dark as night.

The moon will pass directly between the Sun and Earth, temporarily blocking the Sun’s light and creating a rare spectacle in the sky that will bring people from around the world to the Salem-Keizer area to witness the event.

A quick search of the popular travel website showed that 95% of hotels in the area are sold out during the eclipse, and the rooms that remain available are going for several hundred dollars above their normal rates.

The upcoming event has generated plenty of excitement, as well as many questions. In preparation for the eclipse, those who want to learn more about solar eclipses are invited to attend a showing of “Eclipse: The Sun Revealed” at the Chemeketa Planetarium.

Chris Claysmith, the manager of the planetarium, is ecstatic about the presentation.

“I think that it does a great job of communicating all of these ideas without just throwing information out at you and hoping that something sticks,” Claysmith said.

The show itself lasts about an hour and begins with a 25 minute film. It also includes a presentation created by Chemeketa staff and an eclipse simulation using the planetarium’s star projector.

“We’re really happy with the recreation of the eclipse,” Claysmith said. “A lot of people have not realized that the stars are actually visible during the total eclipse. During that two minutes of darkness, we’ll be able to see stars, we’ll even show what stars you’ll be able to see so people will have something to look for.”

Claysmith said that the show has been one of the most popular that the planetarium has ever hosted.

“The only other time we’ve had full shows is right after we got the projector,” Claysmith said.

Because of the large crowds, Claysmith advised that those who wish to see the presentation arrive 20-30 minutes early to ensure they have a seat, as the planetarium only seats 60 people. Claysmith also said that student response to the presentation has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s been really good,” he said. “The show has some really good graphics to it and it does a really job explaining everything about the eclipse. It answers a lot of questions that people may never of had.”

The show may even continue into the summer, but those plans are still in the works.

Presentations of “Eclipse: The Sun Revealed” will take place every Friday night at 7:30 p.m. through June 9 in Bldg.2-171. Admission to the show is $5 for adults and $4 for children and Chemeketa students.

UPDATE: The show will now continue into the summer, as Auditorium Coordinator Terry Rohse confirmed that special encore presentations will be hosted in the auditorium August 18-21, with the actual start times to be announced at a later date.