Inspiring a love of science with Eclipse 2017

WTVG - When Fred Espenak was sixteen he convinced his parents to let him drive 600 miles to photograph the solar eclipse.

"Let's talk about the first eclipse that you saw. This is great story. It was 1970. Is that right? I was an amateur astronomer and I had been looking forward to this eclipse for about seven years."

That moment in 1970 changed his life. He spent 31-years as a scientist for NASA. But it was the eclipse that started it all. We talked to some scientists just starting out in their fields to find out how you can use the eclipse to encourage a love of science.

"I hope to be reminded why I went into this field. It's not often you get to see events that strike awe in use," says Allison Bratcher, Astrophysicist Ph.D. student. She says if you want to raise a scientist the eclipse is a great way to start.

Jennifer Greco says she was inspired to become a astrophysicist by a love of the unkown. She plans to watch the eclipse in South Carolina. "In this field there is absolutely the potential to discover new stars and new planets or new things about new stars or galaxies. It's kind of amazing really. Yeah, I think that's pretty cool."

Here's Greco's advice for encouraging a budding scientist, "Take them to somewhere they can see the eclipsed. Get them some eclipse viewing glasses. And in terms of, and just support them, get interesting books. Just support them and tell they can do something crazy like astronomy. That really helped me."

Jasmine White wants to be a doctor, that's her career path, but her hobby? Photography. "You put it over your lens and it protects it from the harmful rays because your camera is just like your eyes and if you shoot the eclipse it can damage it actually. So you're prepared. Yeah. Very prepared."

She owes her confident attitude to studying science to her parents. Here's how they did it. "Don't put any barriers up for them. When I was younger my parents never told me that it was going to be harder for you because you're a woman or because you're African American so basically I didn't have any barriers. I believed the sky was the limit and that's what I was interested in and nothing's holding me back now."

Now back to Fred, or Mr. Eclipse, as he is now known. that eclipse in 1970 was the moment when youthful passion turned into a lifelong career.

"This suddenness of seeing totality when you're plunged into the moon's shadow it's very other worldly, that event, it really transports you to another planet when you see this," Fred Espenak, Mr. Eclipse.