Solar Eclipse

As I explained early on in this blog, I am an astronomer and educator, so occasionally that content might appear in this blog. Well, now is one of those perfect times for it! Tomorrow is an amazing and rare astronomical event for those of us in the States. We will experience a solar eclipse. Solar eclipses typically occur up to 5 times per year. However they are only visible from very specific locations on the Earth. This solar eclipse will be visible across the US It is something you have to try to get outside and experience if you can! #FingersCrossedForExcellentWeather

Total vs Partial Eclipse

For some it will be a total solar eclipse, meaning the Moon will completely block the Sun in our sky, and others will see a partial eclipse, meaning the Moon will cover only a portion of the Sun. Partial solar eclipses com in 2 forms. The first looks like the Moon when it is between its New and Full phases. The second is called an annular eclipse , it appears as though the Moon is not large enough to block out all of the Sun. This displays a ring of the Sun’s light in the sky.

Really, everyone in the continental US will see at least the partial eclipse, but only those in what we call the path of totality will see a total solar eclipse. To check out how the eclipse will appear to you follow this link and enter your location in the search feature on the right-hand side of the screen.

Image result for NASA solar eclipse totality vs partial

Image credit: NASA

 

How to View the Eclipse

I am sure you have heard this before, but just to repeat it because it is very important, DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN! It is not healthy for our eyes to look directly at the Sun. Even with sunglasses you should not look directly at the Sun. To view the eclipse you could pick up a pair of solar viewing glasses, see NASA’s recommendations for solar glasses.

You need to beware that not all solar glasses being sold are safe to use. However, since the eclipse is tomorrow and I know we sold out at the museum before the weekend, chances are you will not find a pair in time. If you have a pair, please share! You do not need to be staring up at the sky for hours, so share those solar glasses!

No worries, you can still enjoy the eclipse! Pinhole projection allows us to indirectly view the eclipse safely, something I remember doing in school during a partial eclipse. Also, it is affordable because you can literally just use your hands! NASA also has a brilliant page describing how to enjoy the eclipse through pinhole projection.

 

Share your experience!

Let me know how you have taken the opportunity to enjoy some time outside with your colleagues or family before the Summer comes to an end in a month (Autumnal Equinox or the first day of Fall is September 22, 2017) or in the case most US academic calendars, this week! Its great to be an adult out of school. Expect to see me sharing my experience via Instagram. Happy and safe solar viewing!

 

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