The free event will be held from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation's Environmental Outpost Observatory at Big Oak Park, 585 Big Oak Road, about a half-mile east of U.S. Route 13, just south of Smyrna.

Smyrna-Clayton area residents can celebrate the solar eclipse Monday, Aug. 21 at a party hosted by the Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation.

The free event will be held from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the foundation’s Environmental Outpost Observatory at Big Oak Park, 585 Big Oak Road, about a half-mile east of U.S. Route 13, just south of Smyrna.

“Visitors will be able to view this astronomical occurrence through high-end amateur telescopes, have the opportunity to share the experience with other families, learn more about what causes this phenomenon, take a planetary walk, learn about our half-acre Galaxy Garden, enjoy some activities for the children, face painting, and of course Kent County's Big Oak Park,” said Dr. Stephanie Wright, founder and president of the Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation.

No reservations are required.

The free event will feature seven telescopes with solar filters and two sunspotters for viewing.

Safety glasses will be sold for $1. Eclipse information and demonstrations will be given.

A moon bounce and other fun activities will be available for children.

Food trucks will be selling lunch and snacks.

For adults 21 and over, Painted Stave Distilling and Fordam & Dominion Brewing will be offering beverages, including a limited release of Painted Stave’s Sunseeker Wheat Whiskey, distilled from a special Fordham & Dominion beer.

“Our partnership with Painted Stave is unique and rewarding,” said Wright. “Mike [Rasmussen] and Ron [Gomes], owners of the distillery, reached out to DASEF a few years ago. In addition to their passion for distilling, both men understand the importance of motivating children, in particular young women, to learn about STEM topics. With funds donated to DASEF from an auction held annually at the Stave, DASEF has been able to offer STEM programs and scholarships to girls.”

Wright said the party will be a chance to tell more residents about the mission of the Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation, “which is to inspire and motivate children and their families and teachers with an appreciation of the Earth and it's place in the universe. It is a great opportunity for us to reach out to the community and share information about upcoming programs and events.”

For more information on the foundation, see the website www.dasef.org.

What to expect during the eclipse

“A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the Earth and the sun and the moon’s shadow hits the Earth,” said Matt Bobrowsky, an astronomy professor at Delaware State University. “There’s a central, dark part of the shadow, called the umbra, and if you’re standing in the umbra you’ll see the sun completely blocked out.”

While the sun won’t be completely obscured in Delaware, Bobrowsky said about 78 percent will be covered.

“What most of the country will observe, including in Delaware, is a partial eclipse because we’ll be in the penumbra,” he said.

The penumbra is the area to either side of the roughly 70-mile-wide umbra.

“It’s where we see only part of the sun blocked out by the moon,” Bobrowsky said.

“A partial eclipse is visible over a very large area,” Bobrowsky said. “Total eclipses are much rarer, and from any one location on the average you’ll see one only once every 300 years.”

Protect your eyes

Even though Delawareans won’t see a total eclipse, it’s important to be properly prepared. It’s just as dangerous to look at the sun during a partial eclipse as when it’s fully visible: the result can be irreparable eye damage.

“You don’t want to look at the sun directly with your unprotected eyes,” Bobrowsky said.

The best protection comes from using special glasses or filters that protect the eyes while looking up, he said.

Another way to safely see the eclipse is to make a pinhole camera. This is an ancient technique. A tiny hole is punched into a piece of paper. The light from the sun shines through the hole and creates an upside-down image of the eclipse. There are no lenses involved.

And there’s a natural version of the pinhole camera: looking at the ground beneath a tree. The sunlight filters through the leaves, creating images of the sun.

On Aug. 21, between 2:30 and 3 p.m., each of those images will show a crescent sun, Bobrowsky said.

“You can do this with anything with holes in it,” he said. “If you hold a colander out and look at the sunlight passing through the holes and landing on white paper, it will show little crescent suns.”

Also, unlike during a total eclipse, it won’t get totally dark, although some effect, such as a slight change in colors, may be seen.

“We’re very lucky to be living in a time when we can see this extraordinary event,” Bobrowsky said.