OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The solar eclipse will sweep through Nebraska later this month, and some professors and institutions see it as an opportunity to teach students about astronomy, space and science.

The University of Nebraska at Kearney and Concordia University in Seward will invite students and visitors into their stadiums for the solar eclipse Aug. 21, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

Some universities have encouraged instructors to allow students to observe the eclipse or have cancelled classes that day entirely. Other colleges have planned viewing parties complete with drinks and snacks such as SunChips, SunnyD, Moon Pies and Eclipse gum. Some professors are holding events leading up to the eclipse and many organizations plan to hand out safety glasses.

The moon will cover the sun for about 2 ½ minutes in the eclipse's roughly 70-mile-wide "path of totality."

"From what I've heard, its jaw-dropping — awe-inspiring like no other natural event people have seen before," said Jack Gabel, associate professor of physics at Creighton University. "There's so many good things about this."

Gabel said he's enjoyed the public's curiosity about the eclipse. He said he's gotten many questions about where to go to view it, what to expect, how to view it safely and what causes an eclipse.

The last total eclipse to cross the U.S. from coast to coast occurred nearly 100 years ago.

Kent Reinhard teaches physics and astronomy at Southeast Community College's Lincoln campus. He said it's a rare chance to view a natural phenomenon.

"It's just a great opportunity for anybody who has any kind of interest in the world around them," he said.

Reinhard requested Aug. 21 off seven years ago to ensure he'd be free to see the event. He plans to drive out of the city to find his own spot to view the eclipse.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com