Why a total solar eclipse is such a big deal

Reuters  Beawiharta Beawihart Solar eclipse happening on Aug. 21

The only safe way to look directly at the sun during the eclipse outside the path of totality is through special-purpose solar filters, like eclipse glasses, or hand-held solar viewers, NASA says.

Even if you've equipped yourself with appropriate gear to look at the Sun, you can entertain yourself during the partial eclipse by making a simple pinhole camera and projecting the crescent onto a nearby surface.

Locations that will see a total solar eclipse will experience a temperature drop of 10 degrees or more once it gets dark, but it won't be dark enough for Delmarva to experience more than a one or two degree change in temperature. This is more common than a total solar eclipse, but it's nothing to sniff at if this is your first eclipse. In the spirit of southern hospitality, Hiiawassee, GA is hosting a Total Solar Eclipse Tailgating Party featuring a presentation by the Atlanta Astronomy Club, live music, and vendors for a fun, family event. You can experience the eclipse safely, but it is vital that you protect your eyes at all times with the proper solar filters. She recommends doing whatever it takes to watch the eclipse from within totality, because the viewing experience will be drastically diminished, even at 99 percent of totality. To date four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 worldwide standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

You're going to hear a lot about the great American eclipse in coming weeks, even if you don't live in the USA (sorry). 70 miles wide will have a chance to see the moon completely block out the sun in August.

Solar eclipses happen fairly often, but they are not total, meaning some parts of the sun are still visible. With the eclipse a month away today, its prudent to practice ahead of time.”.

Use safety glasses during the solar eclipse. Since the total solar eclipse will be less than three minutes, eclipse viewers will need to move to a different place if clouds are in the way.

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The moon will pass directly in front of the sun, causing some parts of the United States to be in complete darkness.

Educational materials and guidelines to safely watch the eclipse are available from NASA. The last coast-to-coast eclipse in USA was in 1918. A weather station in Zambia recorded a temperature drop of almost 15°F during a solar eclipse in June 2001, and there are reports through history of observers noticing a distinct cooling effect in the midst of a lunar shadow. But I'm not sure how many people are actually able to look at astronomical objects with their own eyes because of all the light pollution.

To best understand the eclipse, interested sun-gazers can attend one of several talks that UO physicists are delivering in August.

Most astronomers have the same advice: Get to the path of totality, because you won't want to miss this.

Viewing starts at 11:30 a.m. and ends at 2 pm. "And if you're going to see it, you might as well document it".

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