Look — Up in the Sky!

joseph_wrightLecture March 18 will kick off Solar Eclipse Season

When the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives returns from its winter break on February 3rd, its attention will be on a midsummer event that will focus on its newest display: The August 21st Total Solar Eclipse! Along with the display, the Museum will kick off the community’s events with a lecture-presentation on Saturday, March 18 by local resident Joseph S. Wright, the operations manager for the University of Missouri-Kansas City Warkoczewski Observatory at the Excelsior Springs Performing Arts Center. Wright also is supplying the components of the Museum’s display, including a replica of Galileo’s telescopes and a comparison of meteorites to earth rocks.

Wright demurs that he is an amateur astronomer, but he has years of experience behind a telescope, beginning as a Boy Scout working on the astronomy merit badge at the H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservation. Years later, he was invited to attend Astronomy Camp for Girl Scout trainers at the University of Arizona under the Spitzer Space Telescope. He has been able to teach generations of boy and girl scouts what they’re seeing when they look at objects in the sky.

In addition, Wright has been a member of the Astronomy Society in Kansas City since 1996 and served seven years a president and 1.5 years as director of Powell Observatory. He has logged five training sessions under NASA’s the Spitzer and James Webb space telescope missions to Tucson and the Goddard Space Flight Center near Baltimore. As a volunteer, he has joined a NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) public outreach efforts as a Solar System Ambassador. He just recently completed two sub-orbital flights aboard SOFIA, NASA’s 747 airborne observatory imaging in the infrared (IR) spectrum of light, under the SETI Institute’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassador volunteer program. This was part of his proposal to teach Girl Scouts and the public about SOFIA’s science and IR astronomy. His proposal was one of those selected from 90 submissions.

Last February he attended a training session in Oakland with SETI under the MAVEN Mission currently doing research on Mars. Wright’s presentation at the Museum on March 18 will provide a framework for the community in preparation for the August Solar Fest. He’ll cover what a solar eclipse is, why and how it occurs, how to prepare for safe viewing — and why this is an historic event for the Excelsior Springs community.

The Museum is participating with the city, Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Excelsior Partnership (DEP) to create a new premier event to showcase the city’s offerings to the visitors here to take advantage of a prime viewing location.

The Excelsior Springs Performing Arts Center is located on the Excelsior Springs High School Campus, Tiger Drive, west side of Excelsior Springs, Mo. The presentation will begin at 1 p.m. Entry fee will be $5.

Information provided by Kathy Duncan, Museum volunteer