Local, National Media Showcase UT Faculty Expertise in Preparation for Solar Eclipse

One of the most amazing celestial sights passed through East Tennessee on Monday, August 21. A total solar eclipse was visible in the United States along a path from central Oregon through Tennessee and on to South Carolina. This summer, national and local media drew upon the expertise of UT faculty members to learn about this phenomenon and to help the public prepare to view it safely.

In July, Paul Lewis, director of space science outreach in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, organized a Solar Sunday event that was featured by WBIR-TV Channel 10. Participants observed the sun through telescopes, picked up safety tips, saw an eclipse simulation in UT’s planetarium and receive a free pair of solar glasses to prepare to view the eclipse.

Lewis also took part in an eclipse camp in Maryville, which was featured in this story from the Maryville Daily Times.

Mark Littmann, the Hill Chair of Excellence in Science Writing in the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, spread the eclipse message by speaking to a large group at Farragut City Hall, as highlighted in this story from WBIR-TV Channel 10. He also spoke to the Knoxville News Sentinel and appeared in this News Sentinel video and gave these five tips for watching the eclipse in East Tennessee.

In August, Sean Lindsay, astronomy coordinator and lecturer in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, answered questions about the eclipse, which were featured in this WATE-TV Channel 6 story. He explained in this Knoxville News Sentinel story why the total eclipse is worth all the hype it’s been given and stressed the need for safety in this WBIR-TV Channel 10 story.

Lewis explained in this Knoxville News Sentinel story how using optical instruments such as binoculars and telescopes to view the solar eclipse — even with eclipse viewing glasses on — could be dangerous and burn holes through the glasses and destroy one’s retinas. His demonstration, featured in the story, showed holes being punctured through the solar eclipse viewing glasses after just two seconds behind binoculars.

Dr. Dan Ward and fourth year veterinary student Leanne Fowler examine a dog during a Channel 8 interview about pet safety and the recent solar eclipse

Littmann, along with Lewis and Lindsay, have encouraged those just outside the path of totality to drive the short distances to totality to maximize their experience of viewing the eclipse. Littmann’s comments were picked up in the Seattle Times and the Christian Science Monitor.

He explained why the eclipse has generated so much attention and a high demand for viewing glasses in this Knoxville News Sentinel story. He also shared about his own eclipse viewing experience in this WATE-TV Channel 6 story.

Littmann also spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the folklore of violence, sex and rage that surround total eclipses.

Dan Ward and Julia Albright, both of the UT Institute of Agriculture’s College of Veterinary Medicine, addressed pet questions related to the eclipse in this Local 8 News story.

Elizabeth MacTavish, clinical assistant professor of STEM education in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, spoke to the Knoxville News Sentinel about how to watch the eclipse with your kids and how help them understand the phenomenon. She also was featured in the Chattanoogan and on WUOT 91.9 FM.