Total Solar Eclipse. If you are in the United States on August 21st then you might be lucky to be in the path of the moon’s shadow as it eclipses the Sun. Most of North of America will be treated to a partial eclipse and only a few who are in the 70 miles (113 km) direct path of the moon’s shadow will experience the full effect.
On the 21st or August in 1609, Galileo presented his new telescope invention to the world. When he turned it at the skies and looked at the moon he saw mountains, craters, and valleys. He also discovered the moons of Jupiter and in 1610 he proved the Milky Way was made up of countless stars. We have come along way to understanding the universe because of his work and it’s nice to remember that connection with a Solar Eclipse on the August 21st of this year.
The Solar and the Lunar Eclipse
A Solar Eclipse can be seen during the day. It lasts only a few minutes and can only be seen from certain parts of the earth.
-It is not safe to look directly at the eclipse without eye protection.
A Lunar Eclipse (also known as the blood moon) can be seen from anywhere on the night time side of the earth.
-It is safe to view a lunar eclipse without eye protection.
Some things to know
You should never look directly into the sun. To view a Solar eclipse you will need eye protection. (Sunglasses do not work). Check here for full eye safety tips during Solar Eclipses.
There is a short period of during the eclipse known as ‘Totality’. In Totality, it is possible to look at the eclipse when the moon covers the sun for a very short time. It’s very important to look away or protect your eyes when the first instance of light appears. Be prepared and know that suns rays can be damaging to our eyes.
Make a Pinhole Projector
If you can’t get eye protection then it’s easy to make a simple projector. All you need is two pieces of stiff paper and small sharp object. Make a hole in the center of one piece of paper. Then use the second piece of paper/card as a screen to view the projection.
- Keep your back to the sun.
- Never look at the sun through the pinhole.
All cameras invert images so the principle for the pinhole camera is the same. Because light that travels in a straight line we can force it through a small pinhole (projector) on to a screen. On the screen, we see that the stronger light source is pushed to the opposite side resulting with the inverted image.
Experience the Eclipse
If you happen to be on the route for the eclipse then you should check out the NASA site for a list of events all across the USA.
On this next link, you can check detailed maps and time tables and discover everything you need to know.
Animations and statistics
This is a really great resource of computer animations and simulations from timeanddate.com. The web page has lots of information about the eclipse including an animated simulation of how the eclipse will look and another showing the path of the moon’s shadow. Scroll down the page to get more details on times, dates and tips.