UNK, NRG Media plan ‘watch party’ for Aug. 21 solar eclipse

When: Monday, Aug. 21, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (gates open at 10:30)
Where: UNK Cope Stadium/Foster Field
Cost: Free
Parking/logistics: unk.edu/eclipse

KEARNEY – On Aug. 21, Kearney will experience a once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse at lunchtime. So University of Nebraska at Kearney is opening its doors to the public to welcome all to a community eclipse Watch Party, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Cope Stadium.

The free event, presented by UNK and NRG Media’s central Nebraska radio stations (Y102, Hits 106 and KGFW 1340/96.1 in Kearney and Classic Rock 101.5 and 107.7 The Island in Grand Island) brings the community to Kearney’s largest venue to safely watch the celestial spectacle while having fun, food, and music. This one-time event is expected to bring as many as 5,000 people or more to socialize and have a real educational lab experience watching the mid-day blackout.

Doors to Cope will open at 10:30 a.m. There is no admission. Eclipse “glasses” (needed to safely watch the eclipse) are available for everyone who enters the stadium for the event, with 10,000 available. Parking is available on residential streets and at satellite parking lots near the stadium, and buses are welcome to drop off larger groups (call ahead for group parking arrangements). Concessions will be open for lunch offerings. Guests are welcome to bring blankets to sit on the field, or seating is in the stadium stands. No chairs or food will be allowed on the field. No coolers, glass or bags other than personal items will be allowed.

Media sponsor NRG Media will entertain with music, interactive games and trivia, prizes, and plenty of opportunities for live video, social media sharing and interactive opportunities for watch attendees. Educational experts will comment and give eclipse updates throughout the event.

Some details about the total eclipse: Kearney will experience totality (total coverage) at 12:57:30 p.m. and the duration is 1 min., 54 seconds. Partial coverage begins at Kearney at about 11:30 a.m. and continues until about 2:30 p.m.

UNK, the Kearney Visitors Bureau, Kearney Chamber of Commerce and Ravenna Chamber have collaborated on events during the entire weekend including activities, speakers, entertainment, and planetarium hours to capture tourists and community involvement. Kearney and Ravenna are said to have one of the best and longest views of the Great American Solar Eclipse. The next total solar eclipses in North America will be in 2024, 2045 and 2099, but none will occur over Nebraska. Kearney’s next total solar eclipse will be in 2744.

“UNK is looking forward to the Great American Solar Eclipse, and it’s our mission to engage, educate and entertain the community,” said Kelly Bartling, assistant vice chancellor for communications and community relations. “This Watch Party serves as a gathering point for the region to create memories and be a fun learning experience, while offering a safe viewing space. We appreciate NRG Media’s help with promotion and entertainment for this event.”

Seating, lunch availability and glasses are first-come, first-served. VIP space will be reserved for high school and middle school groups. Contact UNK Admissions Director Dusty Newton for information on school field trips, at newtond@unk.edu.

Events lined up for April-May and the Aug. 19-21 weekend continue to grow. Check out solareclipsenebraska.org, visitkearney.org and unk.edu/eclipse for updated information.

The UNK Planetarium is hosting five shows leading up to Aug. 21, when a total solar eclipse will occur across the United States. The Kearney are is on the path of totality and is one of the few cities to experience total darkness.

Upcoming solar eclipse events at UNK include:

  • April 17: Sigma Xi Panel — “Great American Solar Eclipse Panel Discussion,” Phil Plait, Doug Biggs (UNK) and Daniel Kennefick (University of Arkansas) 5 p.m., Merryman Performing Arts Center
  • April 28: Astro Friday talk — “Solar Eclipses and the Experience of the Sacred: Religious Responses to Eclipses among Time and Cultures,” James Rohrer, History, 7 p.m., UNK Planetarium
  • May 5: Astro Friday talk — “Black Holes Everywhere,” Mariana Lazarova, astronomy, 7 p.m., UNK Planetarium

Contact: Kelly Bartling, assistant vice chancellor, Communications and Community Relations; 308-865-8455, bartlingkh@unk.ed