America's national parks gear up for May's solar eclipse
Posted on Wednesday 02 May 2012
in San Francisco
By Dylan Thomas
Meteorologists and astrological enthusiasts are expected to flock to various western regions of the mainland United States during the solar eclipse on May 20, and national parks are offering visitors solar-themed holiday packages and special viewing programs. More than 33 reserves from the Pacific Coast to New Mexico will have maximum eclipse views, while an additional 125 parks will have partial vantages.
During the annular eclipse, Earth's moon will completely cover the sun, resulting in a dazzling ring-of-fire spectacle that has entranced meteorologists and scientists for thousands of years. Because the sun will still emit harmful ultraviolet rays during the event, visitors at various national parks will be taught how to construct special solar glasses that will prevent their eyes from damage.
"This will be spectacular,” said National Park service director Jarvis. “There are 33 national parks positioned for a great view of the eclipse and six parks - Redwoods National Park and Lassen Volcanic National Park, both in California; Zion National Park in Utah; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona; and Canyon De Chelly National Monument and Petroglyph National Monument, both in New Mexico - are at the center of the eclipse path.”
Kiwis considering viewing the eclipse at Redwoods National Park in Humboldt, California, should start by booking flights to San Francisco and hiring a car through the state's temperate and dense forests. Featuring the tallest and oldest trees on the planet, Redwoods is also notorious for its pristine coastal vistas, serpentining riverways and rich cornucopia of wildlife. The park also has a number of clearings for optimal eclipse viewing and will host a family-friendly party at the Kuchel Visitor Center.
Toward the southwest, Grand Canyon National Park will provide visitors with advanced solar telescopes through which they can watch the eclipse. Before the event, which will take place for a mere five minutes between 6:34 p.m. and 6:39 p.m., NASA scientists will offer free classes on the latest research related to the sun and the moon. Once the sun sets, the park will host a one-night-only Star Party during which visitors can further explore the vast expanses of the universe with the help of top international scientists.
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