Embry-Riddle Prepares for the Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017

The moon will eclipse the sun and tiny crescent-moon shapes will be projected onto shadowy areas under many trees on Monday, Aug. 21.

The first total solar eclipse to cross the United States since 1776 will reach its maximum at 10:32 a.m. on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Ariz., campus and at 2:50 p.m. on the Daytona Beach, Fla., campus.

Neither campus is located within the “path of totality” – a 70-mile-wide swath in which the moon will completely block the sun – but viewers will be able to experience a significant amount of the eclipse.

“The path of totality across the country will begin along the coast of Oregon and end along the coast of South Carolina when the moon’s shadow will be moving at 1,500 miles per hour,” explained Jason Aufdenberg, associate professor of physics and astronomy on the Daytona Beach Campus. “The next total solar eclipse visible in the United States is only seven years away, on April 8, 2024.”

The university’s two residential campuses are planning numerous eclipse activities:


  • At the recommendation of astronaut Nicole Stott, an Embry-Riddle alumna who serves on the university’s Board of Trustees, two Embry-Riddle delegations under the auspices of Astronomy Without Borders will provide hands-on science learning activities and solar eclipse glasses to young patients at Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando and Ormond Beach.
  • Some 500 solar eclipse glasses will be handed out on campus as students move into their residence halls.
  • The Physical Sciences Department will provide a telescope and interpreters at the Connolly Quad on campus.
  •  Admission to a viewing party at the Museum of Arts & Sciences the afternoon of Aug. 21 is free to Embry-Riddle faculty, staff and students who present an Embry-Riddle EagleCard.
  • The nine screens in the College of Arts & Sciences lobby will be used as one “jumbotron” on which NASA’s live feed of the eclipse will be shown.
  • The Student Union will also display live coverage on some of its mounted television screens.


  • Eclipse glasses will be handed out following a Welcome Back Open House hosted by Frank Ayers, chancellor of the Prescott Campus. 
  • Arizona students from Embry-Riddle as well as Arizona State University, faculty and support team members will conduct the flight of two helium-filled high-altitude balloons with student-built payloads to capture and transmit live video from approximately 80,000 feet during the totality of the eclipse. Additional scientific payloads will enhance our understanding of the eclipse effects on Earth. The balloons’ flight paths will cross over the ground station at Wyoming’s Glendo State Park. The Arizona/NASA Space Grant Consortium is partnering with the non-profit organizations of Arizona Near Space Research (ANSR) and the Prescott Astronomy Club to make this project possible. A live stream, to include images from this balloon launch, will be available online. Downlinked still images from the balloon will also be available on YouTube.
  • Everyone is welcome to observe the eclipse through the wide-field telescope at the Embry-Riddle Observatory starting at 9 a.m.
  • The Prescott Astronomy Club will be hosting events during the eclipse at the Prescott Valley Civic Center. More information about these events and other resources can be found online.

NASA tips on safe viewing include information on certified safety glasses that must be worn to view the eclipse directly. The Prescott Astronomy Club also offers online safety information as well as tips to help children view the eclipse.