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Monday, December 04, 2023

The first day of school may be eclipsed by a phenomenon 38 years in the making.

A partial solar eclipse will occur from 1:15 p.m. to 4:11 p.m., with the maximum of 89 percent visibility occurring at 2:47 p.m., said Francisco Reyes, the director of the UF Teaching Observatories.

Peter Barnes, an associate scientist in UF’s Department of Astronomy, said while it’s enticing to look up at the sky, it’s important to take precautions and look through proper solar glasses. If not, it could cause permanent damage to your eyes.

“The danger is that because something special is happening, people are more inclined to look,” Barnes said.

Only certified solar eclipse glasses, telescopes, binoculars or cameras with solar filters can be used. Gainesville’s Walmarts have sold out of such glasses.

Alachua County Public Schools are taking special precautions to ensure the safety of students during the eclipse. From 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. there will be no outdoor activities, and children who are absent or checked out early from school will be excused, according to their website.

UF and the Gainesville community have planned special events to celebrate the solar eclipse.

UF Campus Teaching Observatory

People can safely view the eclipse from the Campus Teaching Observatory, just south of the Reitz Union on Sweetwater Drive, from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“We will have at least four telescopes with the solar filters so people can come and take a look,” Reyes said.

He said people can borrow glasses for a quick look.

Jade Bittenbender, an 18-year-old UF microbiology and cell science freshman, said she’s eager to experience the celestial event.

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“I’m looking forward to being a part of a big crowd of people that are just interested in the solar eclipse.” Bittenbender said. “Just being in the UF observatory will be extremely memorable for me.”

Oliver Zavala, an 19-year-old UF electrical engineering sophomore said he’s excited to witness the rare occasion.

“I never imagined I would actually get to see (the eclipse) here at UF,” he said.

The Swamp Restaurant

The Swamp Restaurant, at 1642 W. University Ave., will host a solar eclipse viewing party Monday for Gainesville residents to enjoy the eclipse, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The party will run from noon to 5 p.m., and the first 100 people will receive a pair  of viewing glasses. Party-goers can enjoy food and drink specials all day, and the first 100 people to order a Blue Moon will take home a commemorative pint glass.

Sloan Patterson, a second-year UF law student, said she didn’t have plans for the solar eclipse until she saw The Swamp’s event on Facebook.

“It gives people an opportunity to come together and watch something cool,” she said.

Deep Spring Farm

The Deep Spring Farm nature park is inviting people to experience the eclipse from 1:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. beside its one-acre spring-fed pond, according to its Facebook page.

The nature park, located at 16419 W. County Road 1491, will encourage visitors to relax by the pond in a hammock or participate in yoga at 2 p.m., led by Leela Robinson of Yoga Bodywork. Visitors are being asked to bring their own refreshments and protective eyewear.

City College of Gainesville

City College of Gainesville, at 7001 NW Fourth Blvd., will host a free viewing party in the front parking lot of its campus beginning at 2:30 p.m., according to the college’s Facebook page.

The college’s library will provide protective eyewear and a presentation about the eclipse.

Sholom Park

On Monday, a women-only Wiccan sister circle will be held at 1 p.m. in Sholom Park, located at 7110 SW 80th Ave in Ocala.

The event may include circle sharing, discussions, walks, dancing or a craft, according to the event’s Facebook page. The circle is free and open to women only.




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