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Partial solar eclipse to be visible in Iowa

May 17, 2012

Siobahn Morgan, department head and professor, earth science, 319-273-2389,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Iowans are in for a spectacular light show on Sunday, May 20, when a partial eclipse of the sun will be visible starting at 7:30 p.m., according to Siobahn Morgan, head of the Department of Earth Science at the University of Northern Iowa.

"The eclipse will not completely block out the sun, since the moon is slightly farther from the Earth than it normally is," said Morgan. "This is just the opposite of the 'Super Moon' a few weeks ago. This time, the new moon will appear to be slightly smaller than normal, so it will not completely cover the sun and a ring of the sun will be visible around the dark moon from some places on Earth."

For Iowa viewers, the moon will have the maximum coverage of the sun around 8:20 p.m. If clear, solar-viewing equipment will be available to the public in the parking lot to the west of the UNI-Dome, near the athletic fields, starting at 7:30 p.m., Sunday.

Morgan warns that people should never look at the sun through a telescope, binoculars or even a camera without proper solar-viewing equipment. "This can cause immediate and permanent eye damage," she said. She recommends using a projection system to view the sun.

An easy way to view the eclipse is to use a colander, the kitchen utensil used to drain foods. Holding it up and letting the sunlight shine through it will produce little images of the sun on the ground. During a partial eclipse, the projections will have a crescent shape. "Any small hole will produce a similar effect," said Morgan.

The viewing is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Morgan at 319-273-2389 or