Sara Swanson

Solar eclipse reminders for THIS afternoon

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Photo of the 1919 solar eclipse taken from the report of Sir Arthur Eddington on the expedition to verify Einstein’s prediction of the bending of light around the sun. Public domain image.

Today, August 21st, just after 1 pm, the solar eclipse will begin to be visible in Manchester. At about 2:30 pm, coverage will be as complete as we will witness it with just over 80% of the sun covered by the moon. The coverage will begin to wane and the sun will appear normal again by 3:45 pm.

The sun is not safe to look at during an eclipse (just like it is not safe to look at under normal circumstances) and looking at the sun for more than a second or two can cause permanent retinal damage. Under normal conditions, the Sun is so bright that it is difficult to stare at it directly. However, during an eclipse, with so much of the Sun covered, it is easier and more tempting to stare at it but not any safer. (Regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes if you look at the sun.)

Instead of looking at the sun, you can safely view the eclipse by building a simple pin-hole projector. Poke a 5 mm hole in an index card or piece of card stock. Hold the card 3 or 4 feet above the ground in the direct sunlight. A small image of the eclipse will be projected on the ground.

Or, if you are going to be stuck inside during the eclipse, watch NASA live-stream the eclipse at www.nasa.gov/eclipselive-info. Starting at 1 pm, it will feature views from NASA research aircraft, high-altitude balloons, satellites and specially-modified telescopes. It also will include live reports from Charleston, as well as from Salem, Oregon; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Beatrice, Nebraska; Jefferson City, Missouri; Carbondale, Illinois; Hopkinsville, Kentucky; and Clarksville, Tennessee.

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