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Partial Solar Eclipse to Bring Rare Sight to North America

22 Oct 2014, 2:38 pm

partia solar eclipse _ottowa
Photo credit: David Carroll/Flickr
(The end of an annular solar eclipse in 2013, in Ottawa, Canada.)

October seems to be the month of eclipses. First, there was a spectacular lunar eclipse that dazzled in the predawn hours of Oct. 8. And now parts of North America — especially in the American West — will see a partial eclipse of the sun on Thursday Oct. 23.


Image credit: NASA

(This image, from NASA, shows times and locations of where to expect to see the partial solar eclipse.)

According to a NASA graphic, the eclipse — which is expected to begin over far-eastern Siberia — will peak in the U.S. just before sundown. The only locations that this eclipse won’t be visible: The Canadian Maritime Provinces and parts of New England. It may also be difficult to watch the eclipse in regions like the Pacific Northwest, South Florida and parts of New Mexico and Texas. Cloud cover could block the views in those areas.

But before you drop everything to watch this incredible event, remember what your mama told you, “don’t stare directly into the sun!”

Even though the moon will partially block the sun’s rays for a brief period of time, staring into our nearest star can do significant damage to your eye sight. NASA suggests a few methods to watching the eclipse:

1) You can use everyday materials to crate a simple and inexpensive projection device. Here’s what you’ll need: A card with a pinhole, a huge sheet of white paper and a pair of binoculars (optional).
Hold card with the pinhole between the sun and the sheet of paper. The sun, and the resulting void in the light — caused by the moon — will project onto the larger sheet of paper. The binoculars can be used to magnify the projection by holding it up to the pinhole in the card. NEVER look into the binoculars.

2) Specifically designed filters that are made to watch solar phenomena. According to NASA, ” Such filters usually have a thin layer of aluminum, chromium or silver deposited on their surfaces.” You can also use #14 welders glasses to watch the eclipse.

3) If you have it on hand, use a telescope with a solar filter. As you’d expect, this is the most expensive option.

However you decide to watch the eclipse, do so responsibly and enjoy the show!

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

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