Tuesday, August 22, 2017

[046] Thousands view ‘amazing’ Great Tennessee Eclipse at MTSU

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Thousands of people descended upon Middle Tennessee State University for the Great Tennessee Eclipse Monday (Aug. 21), knowing that it was a good chance they wouldn’t be around for the next total eclipse over this area — five-plus centuries from now.

They cheered wildly as the epic, coast-to-coast solar eclipse reached totality — with the sky literally darkening and exposing the planets Venus and Jupiter to the naked eye — at approximately 1:29 p.m. in the green area called the Science Corridor of Innovation.

Braving 90-plus degree heat and bringing pop-up tents, fold out chairs, picnic blankets (even a hammock was spotted), several thousand attendees gathered in the green space along MTSU’s Science Corridor of Innovation.

People from as far away as China and other foreign countries joined Americans from near and far in observing the awe-inspiring celestial phenomenon.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon, which is 250,000 miles away, passes between Earth and the sun, which is 93 million miles away from the planet.

“It was beautiful,” said Kagen Elmore, 10, a fourth-grader at Hobgood Elementary School, attending the event not only with his classmates, but also his brother Torrian, father Will and mother Beverly, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teacher at Hobgood.

Murfreesboro City Schools brought 600 children to the MTSU campus, which was one of six official viewing sites in the Greater Nashville Area. While city schools were in session Monday, Rutherford County Schools announced recently that it would be closed, allowing its students and their families to attend eclipse viewing events at MTSU and others around the area.

Hobgood third-grader Gabryella Gibson, 8, thought the eclipse “was really cool and I was scared a little bit. It was like a picture someone drew in the sky. Hobgood fourth-grader Armando Pacheco, 9, said “it was awesome. It was fun to see the moon in front of the sun.”

Lisa Trail, City Schools director of communications, said “everybody was saying it was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Once it happened, children were screaming with delight.”

MTSU biochemistry alumnus Peter Ghattas of Nashville and a native of Alexandria, Egypt, got in line first to obtain the 9,000-plus free safety glasses sponsored by Turner Construction.

MTSU’s event featured a main stage that showcased student musical performances in the hours leading up to the total eclipse as well as on-stage interviews with faculty about the eclipse — viewing safety, the science behind it, the cool visuals and responses from it.

“I woke up early,” Ghattas said of the reason for arriving early to the Science Building. And he came from Nashville because “this is my school. It’s like my second home. I know the area of totality is less than Nashville, but I feel relaxed here.”

Lane College biology teacher Diane Sklensky drove with a friend to Murfreesboro because “there was totality here and not in Jackson (Tennessee),” where she lives.

John Gromos, vice president of Turner Construction, said he was “so proud to be associated with this event. What a great day to be in Middle Tennessee and to be at MTSU.”

Gromos told the large audience Turner has “25 MTSU grads on our roster, helping build other buildings.” Turner built the new Science Building in 2014 and renovated Davis Science Buiilding and Wiser-Patten Science Hall. Both reopened earlier this year.

Athletics head coaches Rick Stockstill (football), Kermit Davis (men’s basketball) and Jim McGuire (baseball) were part of the event. Stockstill invited everyone to come out for the Blue Raiders’ Sept. 2 football home opener against Vanderbilt. Davis and McGuire were utilized in an explanation about the solar eclipse.

University President Sidney A. McPhee entertained the president and first lady from Hunan Normal University, MTSU Board of Trustees members and others.

A group of 140 attended from the University of Alabama-Huntsville. High school groups included one from Florence, Alabama, and The Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.

One family from Corbin, Kentucky, included Sun Chips, Sunkist soft drinks, Moon Pies and Eclipse and Orbit chewing gun with their picnic lunch. People celebrated birthdays and anniversaries.

The selfie spot was a hit. Artists from the Match Records label in the College of Media and Entertainment performed for nearly two hours.

Department of Physics and Astronomy professor John Wallin described the 1-minute plus total eclipse as “way cooler than I thought. … That was fun. I’m going to try to remember some of it. We’re so lucky we got great weather.”

While walking to try and find his own family, Wallin encountered a mother, daughter and friends of the daughter from Huntsville. Mom Esther Ross is on the Alabama A&M faculty. Elisabeth Embden, 16, is a junior at Hazel Green High School. She is interest in astronomy, physics and astro-physics. Wallin instantly became an MTSU recruiter.

People can still watch MTSU’s production of the eclipse event on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/mtsublueraiders/. MTSU’s broadcast also was available online via Livestream and was broadcast via satellite uplink and through public access channels across Tennessee and the nation.

A total solar eclipse will occur in seven years along the path of the Mississippi River. The next total eclipse to cross the Midstate will be in 2566.

The physics and astronomy faculty and staff collected the safety glasses to distribute to Third World countries for future eclipses.

[045] With total eclipse nearing, MTSU makes final preparations for Aug. 21 event

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — From assembling a large stage to the live musicians performing on it and from hot dogs to safety precautions, Middle Tennessee State University is making final preparations in anticipation of thousands of total solar eclipse enthusiasts descending upon campus Monday, Aug. 21.

MTSU will be entertaining people planning to attend the Great Tennessee Eclipse, an official NASA viewing site for the Greater Nashville Area. The free event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the green space along the Science Corridor of Innovation in the heart of campus.

The event will feature a main stage with video screens, musical performances and eclipse-related presentations on stage and around the grounds. Hoped-for good-but-hot weather is expected for people to view the 1-minute, 5 seconds of total eclipse around 1:29 p.m. and the partial eclipse before and after.

Before Monday’s big show, the public is also welcome to attend the 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, panel discussion from noted astronomy experts. It will be held in Science Building Room 1006.

The coast-to-coast path of the total solar eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The last one to pass through the region was nearly 540 years ago; the next one is 549 years away.

The website www.mtsu.edu/eclipse features plenty of information. Of particular interest will be the Aug. 21 day of the eclipse section. The site includes a map of the event site and another showing the approximately 70-mile wide path of the total eclipse as it crosses from Kentucky into Tennessee.

For those unable to come to MTSU, watch it on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/mtsublueraiders/ and Livestream at https://livestream.com/mtsu.

It will be broadcast from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. in the following areas:

• Comcast Channel 9 in Rutherford County.
• ATT U-Verse Channel 99 in Middle Tennessee.
• DTC Communications Channel 195 in Alexandria, Tennessee.
• United Communication Channel 206 in Chapel Hill, Tennessee.
• Roku in the PEG.TV community television section (click on MTSU in the Education row).

Nearly 20 (and counting) additional areas across the country — from Stow, Massachusetts, to Yuma, Arizona, George Mason University and others — requested and will receive live coverage through TelVue.

Five television stations across the state — WMC Action News 5 in Memphis, WKRN-TV News 2 and WTVF NewsChannel5 in Nashville, WRCB-TV in Chattanooga and WCYB-TV in Tri-Cities — requested live HD satellite feeds from MTSU and its Mobile Production Truck in the College of Media and Entertainment.

Audio/Visual Services and the Education Resource Channel in MTSU’s Center for Educational Media in the College of Education are supplying satellite and distribution to broadcasters and the center’s feed to TelVue.

A timeline for the day’s events

• 8 a.m. — Campus opens to the public.

• 11 a.m. — Event activities begin as does safety glasses’ distribution at registration areas outside the Science Building and near the main stage. (Please note that no eclipse glasses will be distributed before 11 a.m.) A map and eclipse schedule will be available. NASA and MTSU telescope feeds will be on the main stage screen. Four groups from the College of Media and Entertainment’s Match Records will provide music.

• 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. — Self-guided tours in the science buildings. Watch the eclipse on telescopes. Eclipse-related presentations will be available in Science Building Room 1006. They include “The End Has Come … Again: Apocalypticism in American Religious History” with Andy Polk; “The Sun, the Moon and the Stars: A Brief Cultural History” with Susan Myers-Shirk; and “Ancient Greek Astronomy and the Invention of Philosophy” with Ron Bombardi.

• 12:30 p.m. — Welcome and other information from the main stage.

• 12:45 to 1:15 p.m. — Department of Physics and Astronomy chair Ron Henderson and faculty members Chuck Higgins and John Wallin will share eclipse history, facts, safety information and have a question-and-answer dialogue from the main stage.

• 1:15 p.m. — Final safety reminders will lead into a total eclipse countdowns from the stage.

• 1:29 p.m. — Total solar eclipse begins.

• 1:35 to 1:40 p.m. — Wrap-up and discussions from the main stage.

Safety, food and drink, parking and more

MTSU officials encourage the public to bring water, food, wear sunscreen and use only approved safety glasses (no glasses needed during the total eclipse). They are welcome to bring chairs and picnic blankets.

Nashville’s Turner Construction, which built the Science Building that opened in 2014 and renovated Davis Science Building and Wiser-Patten Science Hall, sponsored the safety glasses distributed to city and county school students as well as those that will be distributed on-site on a first-come, first-served basis.

Murfreesboro Fire/Rescue and Police and Rutherford County Sheriff’s personnel will join Campus Police in providing safety and security.

All campus buildings will be open for the public to use restrooms and water fountains. Portable restrooms will be located between Keathley University Center and McWherter Learning Resources Center and near the science buildings.

In the KUC Grill, MT Dining will be selling hot dogs, chips, water and soft drinks. Food venues will be open in the Student Union. The KUC Theater will be a cooling area where NASA Television will be shown on the screen. Other cooling areas include Wiser-Patten Science Hall Room 102 and Davis Science Building Room 100.

Public parking will be available in the Champion Way and MTSU Boulevard garages, and Cummings, Greenhouse/Student Union, and Softball lots. The MTSU and Rutherford lots, which border Rutherford Boulevard, will be available if needed.

The public should enter campus from Rutherford Boulevard at Alumni Drive on the east side of campus.

To find free parking and the event site, a printable campus map is available at

[044] MTSU School of Nursing opens doors during Aug. 25 open house

MURFREESBORO — As MTSU begins the fall 2017 semester, its nursing school encourages interest in a vital profession that constantly needs qualified professionals.

The MTSU School of Nursing invites all new and current students in the Master’s of Science in Nursing program to an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, in the lobby of the Cason-Kennedy Nursing Building. Attendees are welcome to enjoy refreshments and chat about the degree track with faculty members.

With a critical shortage of family nurse practitioners in the United States, the Master’s of Science in Nursing degree helps to fill the need by preparing students to provide health care services to all ages and underserved populations.

Except for clinical rotations, coursework is performed online, providing maximum flexibility for students who have tight schedules or who live in remote areas.

A printable campus parking map is available at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap.
Off-campus visitors attending the event should obtain a special one-day permit from MTSU’s Office of Parking and Transportation at http://www.mtsu.edu/parking/visit.php.

For more information, contact Jenny Sauls, director of the School of Nursing, at 615-904-8488 or jenny.sauls@mtsu.edu.