The Great American Eclipse is coming Monday, Aug. 21, 2017! Our moon will trace its orbit between the Earth and the sun, and everyone in North America will see either a partial or total eclipse of the sun. NASA has the best, most complete resource website available, and it is a great starting point as you plan your event participation. As an Upper School science teacher here at Harrisburg Academy, I wanted to provide some additional tips and tricks to safely view, photograph, and enjoy this amazing event.
The View from Harrisburg Academy
At Harrisburg Academy, a maximum of 76.94 percent of the sun will be obscured by mid-eclipse at 2:41 p.m. — you can click here to see the eclipse “play” digitally right now from the perspective of our school. The initial “bite” out of the sun will start at 1:17 p.m., as seen in Harrisburg through your approved solar glasses. About an hour and a half later (2:41 p.m.), almost 77 percent of the sun will be darkened. Another hour and a half after that (3:58 p.m.), the sun will emerge from all hints of the moon blocking its light. Interested in simulating your own eclipse sky ahead of time and at any location? Simply click this link, type in your address, and click “Play.”
Our moon actually orbits Earth counterclockwise, as seen from above the North Pole. So, the moon’s path will attack the sun from the RIGHT and move leftward across the sun. However, since the earth is rotating on its axis toward the east, the entire event moves from left-to-right across our sky (The simulator link shows this).
- Make sure that you use only eclipse glasses that meet the specific ISO 12312-2 international standards applicable to eclipse glasses. Click here for more information on how to know if your eclipse glasses are safe. Glasses are available at Lowe’s in the Harrisburg area, Walmart, 7-11, and many others. Get them as soon as you can!
- After the eclipse, you can still use your glasses to see large sunspots crossing the sun. Visit the Space Weather website to see if a sunspot is currently naked-eye (with filter) visible.
Everyone has a camera (phone) these days — be careful photographing the eclipse! NASA provides the following safety tips:
- Do not look at the un-eclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device. You MUST put a filter in FRONT of your lens (or else the light intensity will destroy your camera).
- Eclipse glasses can cover the small camera on a smartphone or a tablet. But do note, small eclipse glasses cannot cover a full-size serious camera. Special larger solar filters are available from astronomy and camera dealers. Personally, (Mr. Barnes talking here), I would buy an extra pair of solar eclipse glasses, cut out the filters, and tape a filter directly over my smartphone lens for the duration of the eclipse.
- Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. So do NOT simply wear your eclipse glasses, and then look through your camera!
Some General Eclipse Links for More Information
- NASA 2017 Eclipse webpage – Look for live streaming from this page from multiple points of totality
- NASA FAQ webpage
- NASA Eclipse data webpage
- Sky and Telescope website
- Earth and Sky website – Written here by NASA’s “Mr. Eclipse” – Fred Espenak. Lots of additional clickable links.
- Mr. Eclipse website – Fred Espenak, NASA’s leading eclipse expert
- AAS – American Astronomical Society website
- American Eclipse website
- Great American Eclipse website
- New York Times website
- The Washington Post website
Stay tuned for part two of this series, Sean Barnes’ discussing his upcoming trip to South Carolina to experience the Great American Eclipse within the line of totality.
Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.