When the Great Eclipse of 2017 takes place on Aug. 21, students in six area school systems will be able to safely view the scientifically historic occurrence, thanks to the donation of special eclipse viewing glasses.
The Allan Jones Foundation has announced that 43,000 special dark glasses were donated by Check Into Cash, Buy Here Pay Here USA and U.S. Money Shops — all businesses founded by Tennessee businessman Jones, who considers the eclipse to be the educational opportunity of a lifetime — and a chance for some major fun.
The school systems included are Bradley County, Cleveland, Dalton, Dayton, Rhea County and Whitfield County.
The glasses were made by American Paper Optics, one of the few companies approved by NASA as “safe.”
The glasses are personalized with the date and a unique message for the school systems so that students would have a special historical keepsake they can keep in their favorite drawer.
“There are people traveling to the United States from all over the world to see the only total eclipse of the sun in the last 26 years — it’s a major event that people will talk about for generations, and no one is more excited than kids,” said Jones. “We wanted students to be able to have fun watching the eclipse without risking eye damage, and that is why we considered only glasses that were NASA-approved.”
Jones recalled that as a child, he was always a big fan of astronomy and that fascination carried over into adulthood.
“I took an astronomy class at Cleveland State, but I only attended about half the classes,” said Jones. “My wife, Janie, kept telling me I was going to fail. However, I ended up making a 98!”
Jones — who later went to Barbados to see Halley’s Comet — said he passed the class thanks to two magazine subscriptions — one to Sky magazine and another to a magazine called Astronomy.
The businessman got the idea to purchase the glasses for this summer’s Aug. 21 eclipse after remembering how a partial eclipse back in the 1980s went largely uncelebrated by the local schools.
“My daughter Courtney was in the fourth grade, so I went and got some welding glasses and used a machine to label them ‘Courtney’s welding glasses’ and I put the date on them,” Jones said. “When the eclipse came, I took her out of class and we went to the front lawn of the school and watched it, and then I took her back to class. It was amazing to me that nobody else in the school was interested.”
During the Aug. 21 eclipse, the Moon's shadow will fly across the United States in about 90 minutes.
The path of this shadow — or “The Path of Totality” — is where observers will see the moon completely cover the sun for a little over 2 1/2 minutes near the center of the path of totality. The path is a relatively thin ribbon around 70 miles wide that will cross the U.S. from west to east.
Along with Cleveland and Bradley County, three other school systems are also receiving the glasses — Rhea County in Tennessee along with Dalton and Whitfield counties in Georgia.
Rhea students are in the path of totality, although students in Whitfield County and Dalton will need to travel 45 minutes away to Blue Ridge, Ga. to place themselves in the path.
“We want our students to realize that some people are driving or flying thousands of miles just to get themselves into the path,” said Jones. “And here it is, coming right to your neighborhood or very close to your neighborhood. Don’t miss it, because if you do you will have to wait seven years for another one in 2024!”
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