Safe viewing: How to safely look at the eclipse and what you will see

AP Photos Tyler Hanson, of Fort Rucker, Ala., watches the sun moments before the total eclipse, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. The April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse in North America first hits land at Mexico’s Pacific coast, cuts diagonally across the U.S. from Texas to Maine and exits in eastern Canada.

Hundreds of thousands of people – maybe a million or more – will descend on the region for the April 8 total solar eclipse.

Even those not interested in this unique, rare astronomical phenomenon – when the moon cuts between the earth and the sun – will probably be tempted to look up.

To do so will take some planning.

“You want to have certified, safe solar glasses,” Tom Traub, a NASA eclipse ambassador, told an audience at the Warren Public Library last week. “These are glasses that have filters in them that drop the brightness of the sun by about 10,000 times.”

Glasses marked “ISO 12312-2” are safe to use for the eclipse, as is a welding mask with a filter numbered 12, 13 or 14, though Traub said a 14 will result in the view being dim.

Stacks of Sun Catcher solar eclipse glasses wait to be packed and shipped from the Explore Scientific store Tuesday Jan. 30, 2024, in Springdale, Ark. Special eclipse glasses are crucial for safely observing the sun as the moon marches across the late morning and afternoon sky, covering more and more and then less and less of our star. During totality when the sun is completely shrouded, it’s fine to remove your glasses and look with your naked eyes. But before and after, certified eclipse glasses are essential to avoid eye damage.

He stressed the importance of placing solar glasses over a person’s regular glasses rather than behind them.

“Depending on the prescription, (eye) glasses could be concentrating more light on the filter,” he said. “We wear them anytime we are looking at the sun, except when you can’t see the sun anymore in the glasses.”

The glasses can then be removed for that period of totality. The length of the period of totality will vary substantially depending on where you are.

“Warren, this is the edge of totality,” Traub explained.

That path “cuts across over past the Peppermill,” he said.

That means there will be no period of totality east of there. Shifting north and west, the period of totality in Warren County increases.

Traub said that means 1:23 (one minute, 23 seconds) in Starbrick, 1:48 in Youngsville, 1:55 in Russell, 2:35 in Sugar Grove and 2:54 in Bear Lake.

Along Lake Erie the period hits 3:45.

“Warren is on the edge of that circular shadow,” Traub said. “The lakeshore along Lake Erie is much closer to the center of the circle that will pass overhead.”

The eclipse is bound to be a highly photographed event. Traub said that it’s important to “treat cell phones like your eyes” and not point them directly at the sun.

Those with a camera should use a solar filter while he encouraged those using a cell phone with a filter to point the camera below you so you’re not staring directly into the sun while taking photos.

If the weather cooperates and gives a clear view, there will be remarkable things to see as well as remarkable impacts around us on Earth.

“Just before the very last vestiges of the sun are covered, if you look you’ll be able to see a very thin pinkish line around the sun,” Traub said. “That’s the chromosphere of the sun lit up in hydrogen gas.”

He said that is typically blotted out by the sun.

There are also effects on the ground by temporarily turning off the Sun.

Traub said the temperature will drop 10 degrees and winds will pick up.

“Birds are going to go to roost,” he said. “You’ll hear roosters crowing. Animals will act like it’s dusk or dawn. Peepers will start peeping.”

Because of the uniqueness of the experience, Traub recommended that people take it in.

“If this is your first time,” he said, “don’t waste all the time trying to take pictures.

“You’re going to see people have every emotion in the world,” he added. “I’ve seen it in every eclipse I’ve been at. That’s a neat experience in and of itself.”


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