Students will get chance to see solar eclipse Monday


Principal extends third period, WCSD to give McQueen eclipse glasses so students can safely view the event.


No matter which subject you have third period, next Monday’s class is guaranteed to eclipse all your classroom experiences for the rest of the year.

The first total solar eclipse to be visible in the United States since 1976 will begin just after 9 a.m. The moon will reach its maximum coverage of the sun just before the end of third period classes and is expected to end shortly before noon.

Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017 map

Infographic used with CC permission from NASA

But, students shouldn’t worry about missing the eclipse.

On Wed., Aug. 16, Principal Amy Marable announced that Monday’s bell schedule will be adjusted to allow students to go outside to see the celestial event.

To accommodate the viewing, third period will be extended by 10 minutes. Fourth period will be shortened by the same amount. The rest of the day’s schedule will remain the same, including start and end times.

“I had a number of teachers ask me if they could take their students out to see the eclipse Monday morning,” Marable said. “So, we decided to make some changes to the schedule so everyone can see it. It’s exciting. This doesn’t happen very often.”

The Washoe County School District is also providing McQueen’s third period teachers with class sets of eclipse glasses which will protect viewers’ eyes from blinding solar radiation while watching the eclipse. Marable said each class will receive enough glasses that small groups of three to four students will each be able to share a pair for the big moment.

McQueen science teacher Melissa Reymer said students should not look at the eclipse with their bare eyes – not even with a pair of sunglasses.


Infographic used with CC permission via NASA

“It is not safe to look at the sun directly, ever,” Reymer said. “But an eclipse will actually fool your mind into thinking it is ok to look because it’s not as bright. However, the [ultraviolet] light from the sun will still be there even when there is an eclipse.”

An eclipse is when the Earth, moon, and sun align, Reymer said. The moon will move in the path of the sun and then obstruct part of the view of the sun here on Earth. When the moon begins to obstruct the sun, it will cause a decrease in temperature and a decrease in light. This happens most prominently, Reymer said, within the path of the full eclipse.

But here in Reno, spectators will see about 80 percent of the full eclipse, Reymer said. That’s because Reno sits about 400 miles south of the path of totality – the period when the sun’s bright, visible light is completely covered by the moon.

That students won’t see the full eclipse, though, doesn’t make it any less exciting.

“I’m excited,” McQueen student Stormy Hall said. “It’s really awesome, it’s very uncommon, and it’s cool to see it with your friends.”

The next total solar eclipse to be visible in the United States will occur on April 8, 2024, but it will pass through the eastern half of the country. It won’t be until 2045 that the path of totality will pass this close to northern Nevada again.

McQueen student Edmond Balanzar was unaware students were going to be allowed to view the eclipse Monday morning.

“It’s amazing that we’re going to be allowed to watch it,” he said. “I think it will be better for us to see something going on in our world than talking about what’s in Mr. Kaiser’s class.”