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Staunton River State Park prepares for solar eclipse

South Boston News / July 17, 2017

With the much-anticipated total solar eclipse to take place on Aug. 21, the United States will see the moon completely cover the sun. The last total eclipse was in 1979. The last coast-to-coast total eclipse was in 1918.

While the eclipse won’t be fully visible far up north, Staunton River State Park expects a multitude of people to come out and view the heavenly event. From 1-4 p.m., “Everyone will get free solar eclipse glasses to view [the Sun] safely,” said Park Manager Adam Layman.

While the sun will be partially blocked by the moon, the light will still be dangerous to eyes before and after. Looking through most lenses during an eclipse can also intensify the rays and cause eye damage, so special lenses are essential.

Layman urged those interested to come out: “It’s such a rare event,” he said.

Switching from the sun to the moon:

The next nighttime sky-gazing event is the annual star party from Oct. 16-23, advertising the park’s International Dark Sky status, one of 25 in the world, to view the Milky Way. Last year, the park hosted 225 astronomy buffs and curious amateurs, said Layman, and this year, “we’re hoping for more,” he said.

Attendees are encouraged to bring flashlights for safety in the dark, which will be quickly outfitted with red film to minimize light pollution. The Halifax County Department of Tourism is providing a bus for ferrying people from the boat landing parking to the main observation field so that automobile headlights don’t detract.

Staunton River State Park is also well on its way to completing a nine-hole disk golf course, the first in any Virginia State Park. Layman cited the sport’s popularity, including the course at Edmunds Park just outside of South Boston. The course follows the forested Riverbank Trail along the Dan River.

The unfinished disk golf course has even attracted some use already. “It’s much more popular than we thought it was,” acknowledged Layman.

Staunton River State Park in Scottsburg lies at the confluence of the Staunton (Roanoke) and Dan Rivers at the mouth of Kerr (Buggs Island) Lake. For more information about Virginia State Parks, visit the website:

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