Join the Niobrara National Scenic River at the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge to celebrate the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017. From 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., visitors will have the opportunity to learn about the eclipse, participate in several activities for children, and join in with a citizen science project observing plants and wildlife during the eclipse. Visitors should meet at the corrals. Safety viewing glasses will be available while supplies last.

On August 21st, the sun, moon, and earth will align, causing a shadow that will be seen from coast to coast. The “path of totality” stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, and nearly corner-to-corner in Nebraska. The Valentine area should see about 97% obscurity of the sun.

“If you are able, we strongly encourage visitors to head to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Homestead National Monument of America, or another site that will see the rare, spectacular total eclipse,” said Chief of Interpretation & Education Kristen Maxfield, “But if you don’t want to drive very far, we’ll have our own little partial eclipse party right here.”

Activities include ultraviolet bead experiments that will allow you to see the impact of the sun’s ultraviolet rays—even during an eclipse. A separate experiment will allow children to understand why the moon (400 times smaller than the sun) appears to be the same size as the sun to us. A third activity allows children to create their own partial eclipse, and record their shadow.

Visitors may also participate in a citizen science project sponsored by the California Academy of Sciences’ iNaturalist app. “Life Responds” is a nationwide project designed to record how plants and animals react to the eclipse. To participate, download the app to your smart phones from any app store. On the day of the event, meet up with other citizen scientists beforehand. Individuals will select a plant or animal that they will watch during the eclipse, and take photographs before, during, and after the peak, and then meet up afterward to discuss what they saw.

Never look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse. Special eclipse safety glasses meeting ISO 12312-2 specifications will allow you to view the sun, but won’t protect you if you use binoculars, a telescope or a camera.  Those devices require their own special filters.

This event is sponsored by the Niobrara National Scenic River and the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. The Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge is located four miles east of Valentine on Highway 12. For more information, please contact the Niobrara National Scenic River at 402-376-1901.