Free Public Presentations Explore the Science of Solar Eclipses


As part of NASA’s nationwide coverage of the historic solar eclipse on Aug. 21, the College of Charleston’s Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library is hosting a pair of free public presentations highlighting the awe-inspiring celestial event.

NASA’s Hyperwall – capable of displaying multiple high-definition data visualizations simultaneously across an arrangement of screens – will greet visitors to the Library beginning Saturday, Aug. 19.

That afternoon, at 2:00 p.m., the 16’x9’ Hyperwall will serve as the backdrop for The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA, a discussion by Alex Young, Associate Director for Science, Heliophysics Science Division, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The discussion explores the fundamental connection between heliophysics and solar eclipses, NASA’s connection to the science and the wonder of total solar eclipses, and where/when to experience the Aug. 21 spectacle. Jon Hakkila, CofC Associate Dean and Professor of Astrophysics, will moderate.

The following day, Sunday, Aug. 20, at 2:00 p.m., Paul Hertz, director of astrophysics at NASA Headquarters in Washington, will present Eclipses in Other Planetary Systems, a discussion detailing ways NASA’s astrophysicists search for exoplanets, or planets that orbit stars outside our solar system.

These presentations are among several public activities NASA will conduct in greater Charleston Aug. 19-21. NASA TV will cover the eclipse live from coast to coast in a four-hour program originating from CofC’s campus. More information about NASA’s media advisory about eclipse coverage may be found here.

“The Library is excited to partner with NASA to host Alex Young, Paul Hertz, and the Hyperwall,” said John W. White, Dean of the Library. “By presenting the science of solar eclipses in such an engaging way, we have an opportunity to inspire and educate our community long before the lunar shadow reaches our Lowcountry skies.”

The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA

  • Presented by Alex Young, Associate Director for Science, Heliophysics Science Division, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
  • Saturday, Aug. 19 | 2:00 p.m. | Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library
  • The discussion is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.
  • To learn more about this topic, click here.

Eclipses in Other Planetary Systems

  • Presented by Paul Hertz, Ph.D., Astrophysics Director, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Sunday, Aug. 20 | 2:00 p.m. | Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library
  • The discussion is free and open to the public. Registration is not required.
  • To learn more about this topic, click here.

The Hyperwall will remain accessible to the public in the Library through Aug. 23:

  • Aug. 19-20: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (audio and video)
  • Aug. 21: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (audio and video)
  • Aug. 22-23: 9 a.m. – Midnight (video only)

More information about eclipse-related events on campus may be found here.

Please note: The general public will not be allowed to enter Rivers Green via the Library on Aug. 21 until the campus eclipse viewing event concludes at 3:30 p.m.

About Alex Young

Alex Young is a NASA solar astrophysicist studying space weather in our solar system and beyond. He has served as a support scientist for SOHO/EIT, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope, and STEREO/SSC, the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory Science Center; and a chief observer for HINODE/SOT, the Solar Optical Telescope aboard the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hinode spacecraft. Young is the associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and is the head of the Heliophysics Education Consortium.

About Paul Hertz

Paul Hertz was named Director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in March 2012. He is responsible for the Agency’s research programs and missions necessary to discover how the universe works, explore how the universe began and developed into its present form, and search for Earth-like planets. He previously served as the Chief Scientist of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, managing the Directorate’s science solicitation activities and ensuring the scientific integrity of the Directorate’s programs.

About Jon Hakkila

Dr. Jon Hakkila is a professor of Physics and Astronomy and Associate Dean of the Graduate School at the College of Charleston, as well as campus Director of the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium. He studies the prompt emission from gamma ray bursts, which are the most luminous explosions in the universe. Dr. Hakkila specializes in the application of statistical data analysis and data mining techniques.