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Occoneechee Park Manager Scott Shanklin and staff test the special solar glasses they’ll be using to watch the Great American Eclipse on Monday
SoVaNow.com / August 16, 2017
The Great American Eclipse passing overhead on Monday, will present one of the most spectacular sights of the sky — the moon almost completely blocking out the sun.

While Southside Virginia will not offer a total eclipse experience, two Virginia State Parks in the area are offering opportunities for the public to safely view this historic natural spectacle.

Occoneechee State Park is the place to be on Great Eclipse Monday, according to Park Manager Scott Shanklin. “You can experience an eclipse surrounded by all nature has to offer,” he said. Special viewing glasses, words of wisdom and fun facts will be provided by park staff.

The event at Occoneechee starts at 1 p.m. and ends shortly after 4 p.m. Shanklin says the public is welcome to show up at any time during the program or to stay for the duration to safely observe this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Shanklin has a warning for those who don’t have safety glasses: “Please note that looking directly at a solar eclipse can cause damage to your eyes if you are not wearing proper safety equipment.”

If you don’t have the special sunglasses, make a pinhole camera with your fist and watch the image of the sun on the ground as the moon passes

Staunton River State Park next door in Halifax County is setting up a solar scope at its Dark Sky viewing area for people who want to see the eclipse up close. The scope is fitted with a filter to block out harmful rays. Or you can meet park staff at the visitor center at 1170 Staunton Trail, where you will be given solar glasses to safely observe the eclipse.

The Great American Eclipse, the name given to this year’s event, will begin off the coast of Oregon and move diagonally across the country for about two hours before exiting off the coast of Charleston, S.C. Locally, the eclipse starts at approximately 1:15 p.m. and will reach its peak at around 2:45 p.m. It will end at about 4:00 p.m.

This is the first time in nearly a hundred years that a total eclipse of the sun has crossed the continental United States.

The last such event was in 1918.

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