The eclipse is coming! A total solar eclipse will take place on Monday, August 21, the first to appear over the mainland United States in nearly 40 years. But what does it all mean?
First of all, what is an eclipse? Here’s how NASA explains the phenomenon:
An eclipse takes place when one heavenly body such as a moon or planet moves into the shadow of another heavenly body. There are two types of eclipses on Earth: an eclipse of the moon and an eclipse of the sun. A Lunar (moon) Eclipse occurs when Earth moves between the sun and the moon, blocking the sunlight that normally is reflected by the moon. (This sunlight is what causes the moon to shine.) Instead of light hitting the moon’s surface, Earth’s shadow falls on it. It lasts a few hours, and it is safe to look at a Lunar Eclipse.
A Solar (sun) Eclipse occurs when the orbiting moon moves in between the sun and Earth. When this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching Earth. This causes an eclipse of the sun, or solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow onto Earth, temporarily blocking out the sun. It lasts only a few minutes and it is definitely NOT safe to look directly at a most phases of a Solar Eclipse.
The solar eclipse should only be viewed directly using ISO-approved “eclipse glasses” or welding goggles with a shade number of 12 to 14. Use the filtered shades during the hour-long partial phase before totality and then again afterward for an hour. Only if you are in a location where you will experience total coverage of the sun (here in CT we are not in the path of totality) are you able to watch the event for the duration of totality (only about 2 minutes!) with naked eyes or through binoculars.
Here’s the path of totality for Monday’s Solar Eclipse:
Connecticut is in the 68% region, which means eye protection must be used when viewing for the entire duration of the eclipse.
If you aren’t able to get properly filtered lenses to view the eclipse directly, it is relatively easy to view the eclipse indirectly by making a pinhole viewer out of card stock / posterboard, or out of a cardboard box.
But you don’t even need to even build something. Any object with tiny holes that will let light through works. A kitchen strainer, for example — or just closing your fist to barely let a point of light through — can make for a proper pinhole camera. The important thing to remember is to stand with your back to the Sun, positioning your pinhole device so that the sun projects an image onto a white or light surface in front of you.
NEVER look through the pinhole at the sun!
Cheshire Library will have an Exploring the Eclipse program at Bartlem Park on Monday Aug 21, 2017 at 1:00 PM.. We’ll have science demonstrations and activities for kids, a telescope, and special glasses for viewing the eclipse when it begins here in Cheshire. Glasses will be distributed to children and families attending the program on a first-come, first-served basis, 1 pair to be shared per family.
For more information: