SRSU research initiative leading April solar eclipse education effort in Eagle Pass

A full solar eclipse will darken the skies above Eagle Pass for nearly four and half minutes on April 8, and the La Frontera Research Initiative (LFRI) at Sul Ross State University is leading the educational effort along with NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Solar Observatory and several other scientific research institutes.

LFRI at SRSU is charged with conducting education research and implementation of best practices to improve STEM literacy through culturally responsive teaching and learning, a news release said.

Dr. Jennifer Miller-Ray, the director of LFRI, and Catarino Morales, a biology instructor at Southwest Texas Junior College, will lead four Citizen Continental-American Telescopic Eclipse (CATE) telescope teams in Kerrville, Boerne, Uvalde and in Eagle Pass, the southern most tip of the Path of Totality in the U.S., where the total eclipse can be seen for the greatest length of time in the country.

Dr. Miller-Ray is also a principal on the NSF’s Total Eclipse in the Heart of Texas grant, which is supplying solar viewers, educational activities and training to prepare for the event.

A grant for $10,000 from the American Astronomical Society is helping to fund travel accommodations for educators from all over the state, who will provide research assistance. SRSU graduate students from the McNair Scholars program and education students with Noyce en la Frontera, which trains highly qualified future teachers, will also participate.

Footage recorded by the telescope teams for the Citizen CATE program will be housed in the National Archives, while biology students will record audio for NASA Soundscapes, which researches the way wildlife reacts during an eclipse.

Teachers and researchers began training and practicing with the equipment earlier in February and will travel to Eagle Pass several days ahead of the event to interact with scientists and students.

A free cultural solar eclipse conference featuring top experts from NASA and the National Solar Observatory will be hosted by the City of Eagle Pass and LFRI on April 4 at the International Trade Center. The Science Mill Museum will host an eclipse escape challenge preceding the event.

A community viewing will be held at the Sports Athletic Complex in Eagle Pass from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 8. Families and students from SRSU and Eagle Pass ISD are invited to attend. The total eclipse viewing at SAC is expected to fill with observers who can watch live and from where the eclipse will be livestreamed in multiple languages.

For more information, email Dr. Miller-ray at [email protected] or visit