Solar Eclipse on August 21 — dos and don’ts

Kadee Jo Jones | Lehi Free Press

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On August 21, the United States will see its first coast-to-coast Solar Eclipse since 1918. If you are in the path of totality, the moon will pass completely in front of the sun. For a few minutes, the stars will come out and you will be able to see the usually-invisible corona around the sun. However, viewing the eclipse could cause potential danger to your eyes, so we have created a list of dos and don’ts to help optimize your solar eclipse viewing experience.

The most important thing to remember when viewing the solar eclipse is to not look directly at the sun unless you have specific eclipse glasses or filters. Sunglasses will not protect your eyes, even if the moon is covering 99% percent of the sun. Unfortunately, Utah isn’t in the path of totality. However, there are still lots of ways to enjoy the eclipse with some precautions.

If you decide to travel for a better experience, make sure you are in the path of totality. Please visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-maps for detailed path information. Be prepared for extreme traffic – pack snacks, water, and use rest stops when they are available.

Be at your location at least two hours before the eclipse starts so you won’t miss it. The sun will only be safe to look at for the few minutes of totality, so make sure you have eclipse glasses or a pinhole camera for the rest of the eclipse.

Here in Utah County, you can expect a 90% partial eclipse. It will start on August 21 at 10:13 a.m. and end at 12:59 p.m. with the max at 11:33 a.m. At the max, the light will dim, and you may see Venus and Jupiter. It will also get noticeably cooler – the Moon will be blocking most of the radiation from the sun.

There are a lot of safe ways to experience a partial eclipse. The easiest is to find something that makes a dappled shadow, like the leaves of a tree, or your overlapped hands, and see how that changes during the eclipse. You also can make a pinhole camera, or a cereal box eclipse viewer.

Again, do not look directly at the sun without proper protection. Safe viewing requires special solar filters, including eclipse glasses, which must be marked ISO 12312-2, or a large piece of welder’s glass, number 14. There are also solar filters for telescopes and binoculars, but they must go over the open end, not on the eyepiece.

There are a lot of places nearby that are having special eclipse parties. All will have telescopes and filters and activities to do during the eclipse. Events will be held at Thanksgiving Point at Ashton Gardens, Orem Public Library, Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake, Wheeler Farm and The Gateway Plaza Fountains.

For more information, eclipse glasses, pinhole camera instructions, and frequently asked questions, check outhttps://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/. If you miss the eclipse this year, don’t worry. A total solar eclipse will pass over Utah County in 2045 – just 28 years to wait!

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