If you go
What: "Solar Eclipses and the Siberian Experience," a lecture about solar eclipses by Dr. Robert Ball, presented by the Yampa Valley Astronomy Club, Jimmy Westlake, of Colorado Mountain College, and the CMC Sky Club
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Bogue Hall, CMC Alpine campus
Steamboat Springs Robert Ball had been in Russia for days, and the sky had been overcast almost the entire trip.
Because Ball was on a tour in central Siberia following the path of what was predicted to be a total solar eclipse, the weather was a concern. At just the right time, the clouds dispersed, and a narrow sliver of the world saw the sun completely shadowed by the moon.
"The skies just completely cleared, and there we were; we had wonderful viewing. And then, when we got back to town, it clouded up again," Ball said. For the few people who get to experience seeing one, a complete solar eclipse is an awe-inspiring and sometimes hard-won sight.
"Most experts recommend that the first time you see one, you don't even take pictures, because it's a unique event that most people don't see in their entire lifetime," Ball said.
In a free lecture Tuesday, Ball will discuss the theory behind solar eclipses, where they occur and why they occur. The presentation, which starts at 6:30 p.m. in Colorado Mountain College Alpine Campus' Bogue Hall, includes a photo slideshow of the Aug. 1, 2008, solar eclipse Ball traveled to Siberia to see.
The lecture is presented by the Yampa Valley Astronomy Club - of which Ball is a member - along with Jimmy Westlake, of CMC, and the CMC Sky Club.
So far, Ball has seen two total solar eclipses - the one in August 2008, and another in 1998. In July, he plans to travel to China to see his third. Because the sun and the moon travel in predictable orbits at predictable speeds, avid astronomers such as Ball know where they need to be and when to capture a solar eclipse.
"An average location on the earth may only see a solar eclipse once every 300 years," he said. Colorado residents will have rare access to the astronomical sight in 2017, when a total solar eclipse will be visible from southern Wyoming, Ball said.
Tuesday's presentation will be loaded with photos to better express the impact of a solar eclipse, Ball said.
"It's strictly a visual experience," he said. "You can't describe a solar eclipse - you've got to see it to appreciate it."