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NASA alumni and Ouachita Baptist University shares eclipse knowledge



Arkadelphia, Arkansas – Activities around the state, including at Ouachita Baptist University, began on Friday night in anticipation of the solar eclipse that is expected to occur on Monday, unless you have been living under a rock.

Dr. Jim Spann, an OBU alumnus who worked for NASA for 37 years before joining NOAA as a senior scientist, talked about his career in this field and what people might expect on Monday.

“It’s one of those experiences, that you can’t describe, you have to experience,” Dr. Spann said.

The countdown from space is almost complete. According to Dr. Jim Spann, the experience of those towns in the path of totality will be transformative.

“It’s the difference between night and day, pun intended, even a sliver of the sun is so incredibly bright that you don’t get the full effect of being in complete totality where the moon totally covers up the Sun,” Dr. Spann said.

Not only is total darkness experienced during the eclipse a fascinating event, but one should also be alert for solar flares and other phenomena.

“Just as the sun hides behind the moon, there are going to be slivers of light that come through the valleys of the moon,” Dr. Spann said, “Those are called bailey beads, and that’s due to the sun peeking out from behind mountains through the valleys reaching us.”

According to student Alex Browning, the university is prepared to put Dr. Spann’s expertise to use in a matter of days and will host a sizable viewing party on Monday.

“And then be able to see what his lecture is about in action on Monday, and just seeing the beauty of what God can do,” Browning said.

According to Dr. Spann, those who see the incident will never forget it and should be inspired to take action as well.

“I hope the students who have an aptitude or an interest in that, may recognize this would be so cool to study,” Dr. Spann said.

Dr. Spann stressed the need of safety when viewing the eclipse as well, stressing that solar eclipse glasses are a must for everyone’s personal safety.


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