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‘Nova’ has its tightest deadline ever with Aug. 21 eclipse

 Paula S. Apsell wearing the NOVA Eclipse Over America glasses.
Jennifer M. Welsh/NOVA
Paula S. Apsell wearing the NOVA Eclipse Over America glasses.

For the people at the science television series “Nova,” Aug. 21 will be sort of like election night, at least when it comes to deadlines.

The program — produced by WGBH Boston — has decided to film that day’s total solar eclipse and air it hours later. It’ll be the series’ fastest turnaround to date.

“I used to do live television in earlier periods of my career,” said senior executive producer Paula S. Apsell, who’ll be running things that day. “This feels very much like it.”

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Apsell said “Nova” will set up crews in Casper, Wyo.; Salem, Ore.; NASA’s Ellington Airfield in Houston; and Irwin, Idaho. Some PBS stations are planning to send their own footage of the eclipse for the special.

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Participating experts will include Williams College professor Jay Pasachoff, who’s logged 65 eclipses.

“We’ll have five edit rooms,” Apsell said. “All of the material will come into each edit room.”

The eclipse should be visible (in some places better than others) at about 1:15 p.m. on the East Coast, and “Eclipse Over America” should be ready to air on WGBH at 9 p.m.

“Nova” has already prepared content about the history and science of solar eclipses to accompany the footage. Producers have a 52-minute show already done, which will help if weather isn’t in their favor.

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Apsell promises “Nova” “will be getting the most pristine shots of the eclipse.” She also said everyone working on the project will get “Eclipse Over America” glasses for safety. “Nova” will give out some of those glasses at “An Eclipse for Everyone,” an event at the Boston Public Library on Tuesday night. (Seating is limited.)

Apsell probably won’t need a pair herself; she said she won’t get to see much of the eclipse as she runs the show from Boston.