Tuesday, August 15, 2017

UIS professor offers advice on how to safely view the August 21 solar eclipse

A partial solar eclipse will take place in central Illinois on August 21, 2017. On that day, the moon will pass between the Earth and the sun, casting a shadow on the Earth that will travel west to east across the United States.

According to University of Illinois Springfield Associate Professor of Astronomy-Physics John Martin, areas of southern Illinois will experience a total eclipse with 100 percent of the sun covered by the moon, while the Springfield-area will see 96 percent coverage around 1:18 p.m.

“Where the moon shadow hits the Earth is where you see the eclipse,” said Martin. “You might notice with the shadow you have a darker and a lighter part of the shadow. The lighter part of the shadow, on the edges, is where the moon has just partially blocked out the sun. We here in central Illinois are going to be in that partially blocked out shadow. That’s not as dark as all of the way blocked out.”

Martin warns anyone viewing the eclipse that they should not look directly at the sun with the naked eye or with a telescope. He suggests using protective glasses made out of sheets of Mylar or a #14 welder’s glass. You can also make a pin-hole camera out of a box or even a notepad.

“Even with the sun 96 percent covered, it’s still very bright,” said Martin. “It’s still like staring into a welder’s arc just a few feet away from your face, so don’t look at the sun during the partial eclipse.”

Martin also urges those hoping to view the eclipse to check the weather forecast, as clouds can block your view of the event.

“If it’s cloudy on the 21st, it’s cloudy for the solar eclipse, we have another one coming up in 2024, in about seven years,” he said.

Martin has created a website with more information about the solar eclipse, which includes a map showing the amount of coverage in central Illinois.

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