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Partial solar eclipse that we get to see on Monday is rare; next one in 2044

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A partial solar eclipse will be visible in Virginia on Monday starting around 2 p.m. and concluding at 4:30 p.m.

Television anchors, on news and weather channels, have been geeking out all week, excited about the eclipse.

A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes into the moon’s shadow and blocks the sunlight.

Maximum darkness in the region is expected around 3:17 p.m.

The rare event will not happen again until 2044.

Several school systems are dismissing children early on Monday to prevent buses on the road during the eclipse. The Virginia Department of Transportation warned that reduced visibility is possible during the celestial event.

Rockingham County Public Schools is dismissing students at 1 p.m. to ensure students are supervised during the eclipse so they do not look at the sun without proper eyewear.

Rockbridge County Public Schools will operate on a two-hour early release on Monday. The school system said they hope this event will be treated as an educational opportunity. All RCPS elementary and middle school students will be provided approved glasses so they can safely view the eclipse.

“Be sure that your children do not look at the sun,” said James Madison University physics professor Geary Albright. “It is hard for grownups not to look, children have even less discipline, so be careful with their eyes.”

Although it is only a partial eclipse, viewers should always wear eye protection, such as eclipse glasses, Albright said.

Albright’s students will be setting up telescopes on the JMU quad and at the astronomy park on east campus in Harrisonburg for people to view the eclipse. The students will also have some eclipse glasses on hand.

Virginia State Parks also plan to host educational programs led by park rangers at eclipse events.

Albright recommends that people try to view the two-and-a-half-hour spectacle on Monday since there won’t be another one for 20 years.

Harrisonburg residents can expect to see a 90 percent solar eclipse, Albright said.

AccuWeather predicts that there is a 40 percent chance of rain on Monday in the region with intervals of clouds and sun.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.