Solar Eclipse on Monday

By Mary O’KEEFE

 

On Monday, April 8, a solar eclipse is happening and many people in the U.S., Mexico and Canada will be able to view this universal show.

“Along the narrow ‘line of totality’ [that extends] from Mazatlán, Mexico to Newfoundland, Canada, viewers will experience a total eclipse where the Moon fully blocks the light of the Sun for several minutes,” according to the Griffith Observatory.

Belton, Texas will experience a total solar eclipse while Californians will experience a partial eclipse that will begin at 10:06 a.m. on Monday. The maximum partial eclipse in Los Angeles will be at 11:12 a.m. and will end at 12:22 p.m. The total eclipse in Texas begins at 10:19 a.m. with totality starting at 11:37 a.m. and ending at 11:41 a.m. The solar eclipse will end at 12:59 p.m.

“A partial eclipses can happen for two reasons. First, viewers outside the path of totality during a total solar eclipse – or the path of annularity during an annular eclipse – will see only part of the Sun’s surface covered by the Moon. The other time a partial eclipse can occur is when the Moon is nearly above or below Earth in its orbit so only part of the Moon’s shadow falls on Earth. In this case, only part of the Sun’s surface will appear covered by the Moon,” according to Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)/NASA. “Solar eclipses occur when the Sun, the Moon and Earth align. For this alignment to happen, two things need to be true. First, the Moon needs to be in the new moon phase, which is when the Moon’s orbit brings it between Earth and the Sun. Second, eclipses can only happen during eclipse seasons, which last about 34 days and occur just shy of every six months. An eclipse season is the time period when the Sun, the Moon and Earth can line up on the same plane as Earth’s orbit during a new or full moon. If a new moon happens during an eclipse season, the shadow cast by the Moon will land on Earth, resulting in a solar eclipse. Most of the time, because the Moon’s orbit is slightly tilted, the Moon’s shadow falls above or below Earth, and we don’t get a solar eclipse.”

Safety Notes from JPL/NASA

Partial or annular solar eclipses are different from total solar eclipses – there is no period of totality when the Moon completely blocks the Sun’s bright face. Therefore, during partial or annular solar eclipses it is never safe to look directly at the eclipse without proper eye protection.

Do not look directly at the Sun or view any part of the partial solar eclipse without certified eclipse glasses or a solar filter.

Viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.

Always inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use; if torn, scratched, or otherwise damaged, discard the device. Always supervise children using solar viewers.

Do not look at the Sun through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while wearing eclipse glasses or using a handheld solar viewer – the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury.

Those who don’t have eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer can use an indirect viewing method (https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/projection), which does not involve looking directly at the Sun. One way is to use a pinhole projector, which has a small opening (for example, a hole punched in an index card) and projects an image of the Sun onto a nearby surface. With the Sun at the person’s back, a person can then safely view the projected image. Do not look at the Sun through the pinhole.