The solar eclipse is coming up on Monday. There are lots of things to know before you step outside. Read on to learn when to see it, how to see it, and where to see it (how about at a library party?)
WHEN TO CATCH THE ECLIPSE
A total eclipse is making a path from Oregon to South Carolina over several hours on Monday afternoon. Since we are north of that, we won’t be able to see a complete eclipse in Westchester, but experts predict we will see about a 70% covering. Pretty cool!
In our viewing radius, the eclipse will last about an hour and a half, beginning around 1:30pm, peaking around 2:45pm when the moon hits the center of the sun, and ending around 4pm.
If you can’t get outside at that time, you can watch the eclipse live at NASA’s website. Click here for more info.
HOW TO WATCH THE ECLIPSE SAFELY
Whether it's a good idea to watch the eclipse in person depends on your child’s age. Let’s first talk about the risks. Watching the eclipse without any eye protection can be blinding, as you are literally burning your retinas, and since they don’t have any pain receptors, you won’t have any idea the damage is happening. According to Angela Fritz of the Washington Post, “Depending on the sky conditions, it only takes about a minute and a half for your eyes to be permanently damaged, and the damage is cumulative, meaning you don’t have to stare at the sun without looking away for it to be harmful — you may just be taking quick glances, but it’s still damaging your eye.”
And don’t just think you can slap on some sunglasses and call it a day. Sunglasses only block up to 60% of light rays, but eclipse glasses block 99.9%. They’re the only safe way to watch directly. Want a pair? Call your public library, as they have all been issued safe glasses. Or you can head to a store, but you risk getting a pair that is not authorized. How do you know if your pair is safe to use? NASA has released a list of the only 5 authorized manufacturers:
• Baader Planetarium
• Rainbow Symphony
• Thousand Oaks Optical
• TSE 17
• American Paper optics.
Once you verify the manufacturer, check for the ISO number 12312-2 printed on the side.
Got your hands on some glasses? Check the fit on your child. If your child is old enough to keep the glasses safely on without removing them or peeking around the lenses, you should be safe. If they don’t pass the test, there are still a few ways to watch the eclipse.
Make a pinhole camera
With a pinhole camera, you can stand with your back to the sun and watch the eclipse as it’s reflected through a tiny hole poked into a surface. This is a safe way to let your little ones get outside for the eclipse without worrying about their vision. Here are two DIY guides to make a pinhole camera. This is a great project to complete with a curious kid!
Watch it streaming
This is what I recommend if you have little ones who want to watch. This will also be your best bet if it’s cloudy or raining, because unless the sun is out in a clear sky you won’t be able to see the magic anyway. NASA is streaming the eclipse live here.
BEST PLACES TO WATCH THE ECLIPSE
Any place with an unobstructed view of the sun during the eclipse time will be perfect. Not sure if your back yard is a candidate? Head outside during the future eclipse timeframe on a sunny day this weekend and see where the sun is. Most large parks will have a good view as well.
A number of libraries are throwing viewing parties. If you’re interested in attending, call to verify that there are spots left and that you are eligible. Check out our list below for a sampling of libraries that are sponsoring viewing parties.
See you next time!