Eager eclipse-seekers started sussing out places to stay in Central Oregon for the Aug. 21 solar eclipse months — and in some cases — even years ago.
But it’s not too late to find family-friendly events, and even places to stay, to observe the moon blocking the sun. Local schools and other organizations are holding gatherings for adults and children to gander at the rare celestial event.
In Bend, the moon will cover about 99 percent of the sun, according to NASA’s solar eclipse map, but the moon will completely cover the sun in Madras, Culver, Warm Springs, Sisters, Redmond and Prineville.
In Madras, two events scheduled ahead of time will help the community learn about the solar eclipse and how to view it. The Madras Performing Arts Center will host a free Solar Viewing Tips talk from NASA scientists on Aug. 17. There, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 7 p.m., NASA will hand out 12,000 pairs of free eclipse viewing glasses. Beginning at 7 p.m., NASA scientists will present: “Why I Watch Solar Eclipses.” A question-and-answer session will follow.
An astronomer talk at 6 p.m. on Aug. 20 at the Madras Performing Arts Center will kick off two days of educational events from the world-renowned Lowell Observatory of Flagstaff, Arizona. Astronomer Jeffrey Hall’s talk, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting an Eclipse,” will examine the circumstances of eclipses, what’s visible when one occurs and what people can learn from eclipses. A historian talk at 7 p.m. and a second astronomer talk at 8 p.m. will follow. From 9-11 p.m., attendees can head out with scientists to the Madras High football field, adjacent to the arts center, to view the night sky.
The day of the eclipse, tickets for $20 per person will allow access to more events from Lowell Observatory at the Madras Performing Arts Center; gates open at 6 a.m. and talks and narration of the solar eclipse will continue through the day until 4 p.m. Members of the Lowell Observatory do not need to purchase tickets, but should RSVP.
Oregon Solarfest in Madras, in partnership with NASA, will have live music, science presentations, a kids play area, food and vendors during festival hours: 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 18-20 and 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 21.
Campsites at Oregon Solarfest are already sold out, but festival tickets and day-tripper parking are still available. Festival ticket prices vary for kids and adults, depending on whether a visitor wants a day pass or to attend all four days. Some types of parking passes for the event allow users to sleep in their vehicles or RVs, but no tents are allowed.
In Warm Springs, there are several family-friendly events aimed at helping people understand and celebrate the solar eclipse. Native Sol, to be held Aug. 19-21, is a free event that will offer live music, tribal dance exhibitions, family games and a powwow in front of the behavioral health center at 1115 Wasco St. Vendors will open at 9 a.m. each day, while dance exhibitions will take place at 1 p.m. Aug. 19 and 20. The powwow will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 21.
Two events at Warm Springs K-8 Academy, 50 Chukar Road, will take place Aug. 20. The Northwestern Earth and Space Science Pipeline, the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs and the school will host the Planetarium and Student Robotics Competition from 3 to 5 p.m. That evening, the Northwestern Earth and Sciences Pipeline, again in partnership with the Confederate Tribes and the K-8 academy, will put on a stargazing party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the academy’s football field.
On the day of the eclipse, the community is invited to the Warm Springs K-8 Academy’s football field again from 9 to 11:30 a.m. to view the solar eclipse. There, free solar eclipse glasses and solar eclipse viewing telescopes will be available to attendees. There will also be a NASA balloon launch at that event.
Oregon State University-Cascades is putting on the Eclipse Experience from Aug. 19-21 at its new campus in southwest Bend. OSU-Cascades describes the Eclipse Experience as a two-day, family celebration that includes educational events with university faculty and other experts.
A $350 OSU-Cascades Eclipse Experience package, meant for two, buys a two-night stay in the university’s residence hall with two twin beds and a shared bathroom with one neighboring room, access to educational sessions and other eclipse-related activities, solar-viewing glasses and breakfast for two each morning.
The day of the eclipse though, those at the Eclipse Experience are free to view the event as they please. That way those who want to travel closer to the path of totality or want to pick a special viewing spot in Bend can do so, according to Christine Coffin, the university’s director of communications.
The university is also holding an eclipse event in Culver, on Culver High School’s recreation fields, Aug. 20-21.
The family-friendly Orange & Black Eclipse Festival will include a natural history talk, build your own solar viewer workshop, rocket demonstrations a live Latin dance band and more. There are two packages to camp at and attend the Culver festival: a $120 campsite package that includes a 15-foot-by-20-foot dry campsite, parking and admission for six participants and a $200 RV package that includes a 10-foot-by-45-foot or 10-foot-by-75-foot, no-dump, no-hookup RV site and admission for six participants. The deadline to sign up for both of those events, in Bend and in Culver, is Aug. 11.
Families should be aware some regular local resources, such as the Deschutes Public Library, will be closed the day of the eclipse because of the crowds and traffic delays expected.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, email@example.com