WKU Preparing for Thousands of Students for Aug. 21 Solar Eclipse

Jul 5, 2017

The path of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse runs through Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Credit WKU Hardin Planetarium

Western Kentucky University is planning for its football stadium to be filled with a crowd of 8,000 to 20,000 school-age children for the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. 

WKU has invited area school districts to share the highly anticipated event that will cause the day to go dark for about one minute at 1:27 p.m. in Bowling Green.

The path of the eclipse runs across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. Locations nearest the center line will experience darkness for two-minutes-and-43-seconds. Bowling Green is at the edge of the “path of totality” for the eclipse.

WKU Emergency Manager David Oliver says plans are similar to football games,  but there are some unique considerations for a stadium full of school-age children.

“The difference in this is the potential for high heat and humidity being Aug. 21. The second consideration is the age of the population. We’re bringing younger children in, in groups of children, versus in their family setting with their parents.”

Everyone viewing the eclipse is being advised that special glasses or viewers must to used to avoid eye damage. Some local businesses and organizations are ordering those glasses for employees or students.  

Oliver says the university is experienced at handling crowds that can reach 24,000 for a football game.

“We have evolved into developing comprehensive event plans for anything of this size, anything out of what I could call out of the norm or large scale. We develop a plan with all of our response partners, including police, fire and EMS.”

WKU will set up a combined emergency operations center at the stadium for the eclipse, in collaboration with Warren County first responders.

Information on the eclipse is available at http://www.wku.edu/eclipse/index.php