Scientists and science teachers in Georgia are preparing for what they see as the educational opportunity of a lifetime — a total eclipse of the sun on Aug. 21.
University of Georgia professors Julie Luft and atmospheric sciences professor John Knox have already launched an effort to provide special dark glasses to every single student in the Clarke County School District on that day, The Athens Banner-Herald reported. More glasses would be given to students in some surrounding counties.
It's expected to cost about $6,000 for 17,000 pairs of the special glasses to view the eclipse without risking eye damage, said Luft, a professor in the UGA College of Education's science and math education department.
Astronomers calculate the eclipse will begin in northeast Georgia around 1 p.m. and conclude around 4 p.m. as the moon passes between Earth and the sun.
The zone of total eclipse will be just a few miles away from Athens — to the north, around Toccoa.
But it will be just as spectacular in the immediate Athens area as the sky darkens, the wind dies down and birds, fooled by the gathering darkness, settle down for what they believe is the arrival of nightfall, the Banner-Herald reported.
In the Athens area, only a thin sliver of sun will peer out from behind the moon, said Knox, a professor in UGA's Atmospheric Sciences Program, a member of the Clarke County Board of Education.
Even as far south in Georgia as Valdosta, 90 percent of the sun will be blocked out, said science evangelist Maurice Snook, who's launched his own campaign to educate the public about the upcoming eclipse.
Snook, locally famous for his science shows in area schools, has scheduled a series of talks at libraries and other venues, including the Oconee County Library on April 10, the Nicholson Library on April 25 and the Athens-Clarke County Library on May 17. He'll also have a display at the Winterville Marigold Festival May 20.
Snook, a chemist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Athens, is also working with the Sandy Creek Nature Center to get ready for Aug. 21, he said.
Eclipse glasses are already on sale at the nature center.
UGA scientists have approached the UGA Athletic Association about the possibility of opening up Sanford Stadium and its giant video screen on that day.
It's too early to know if it can happen, but he's hopeful about the response he's gotten thus far, Knox said recently, the Athens newspaper reported.