Caution urged during April 8 total solar eclipse

By Roz Weis,

The Driftless region will have an opportunity to view a rare total solar eclipse April 8.

Area residents will see partial phase of the eclipse, which will begin by approximately 12:48 p.m. until shortly after 3 p.m. Cloudy conditions would hamper that viewing opportunity.

From Decorah, the eclipse will show the moon overtaking the sun as a partial eclipse at a peak magnitude of approximately 85%. The “path of totality” for this eclipse is anticipated to arch from Mexico to Texas to Maine. Some states bordering Iowa are expected to see the total eclipse.

Residents are strongly cautioned to embrace safety precautions when observing the eclipse.

Area schools have alerted parents that oudoor recess will be kept to a minimum.

In a communication with parents recently, Decorah Community School Superintendent Tim Cronin noted, “To ensure student safety, students will engage in indoor recess and activities throughout the time of the eclipse unless cloud cover allows for safe outdoor activities. For sites managing school dismissal during this time, we’ll increase communication and supervision to guarantee the safety of all students and staff.”

Watch party

ISU Extension and Outreach and Winneshiek County Conservation agencies have issued an invitation for a free solar eclipse watch party Monday, April 8.

Those attending will meet in the grass area north of the Decorah Swimming Pool at 1 p.m. to learn about the solar eclipse, then put on special viewing glasses to watch the eclipse begin at approximately 1:30 p.m. Viewing glasses will be provided for the first 50 attendees. Those wishign to sit during the program are asked to bring a lawn chair or blanket if needed.

In the case of inclement or cloudy weather, the event will be cancelled.

It is estimated it will be nearly 20 years before another solar eclipse could be visible from the United States.

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