Misericordia professor heads west for eclipse’s ‘path of totality’

By Bill O’Boyle - [email protected] | August 21st, 2017 12:21 am

Luzerne County resident Michael Orleski said he would be in Glendo, Wyo., to view the solar eclipse today because he wants to see it in its “path of totality.”

Orleski, chair and associate professor of physics at Misericordia University, said he wants to view the total eclipse because he thinks a real experience involves more than facts and figures.

Orleski is part of an organized eclipse tour through Sky & Telescope magazine, a major amateur astronomy magazine in the United States. He runs the Astronomy Club at Misericordia and handles public star-gazing events.

The eclipse trip is operated by Collette Tours out of Rhode Island, and Orleski’s group was planning to spend two nights in Denver and and two in Cheyenne, Wyo.

“We will see the eclipse from Glendo, Wyoming, which will give us 2 minutes and 30 seconds of totality,” Orleski said. “That’s 11 seconds less than the maximum. The length of the eclipse varies with location. (Northeastern Pennsylvania) will see the sun about 73 percent covered by the moon.”

Orleski said he has seen a few partial eclipses, but never a total one.

“Without major travel, I will probably only get two opportunities to see a total solar eclipse in my lifetime — this month and in 2024, when the Eastern USA gets the view,” he said. “A total solar eclipse has been on my bucket list since I was a kid and new to astronomy. From what I have read, seeing a total solar eclipse is a significant life experience.”

At Misericordia, Orleski teaches astronomy, Earth science and calculus-based introductory physics.

“My experience during the eclipse, and any decent photos I manage to take, will be incorporated into my courses where appropriate,” he said.

Orleski said his goal is to observe as many astronomical phenomena as possible. He said he has seen total lunar eclipses, partial solar eclipses, comets, the sun (properly filtered), all of the planets, and many deep-sky objects (outside our solar system).

Orleski joined the Misericordia faculty in 2008. He is credited with developing a popular service-learning course in astronomy, in which students host star-gazing sessions for the community.


By Bill O’Boyle

[email protected]

Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.