Astronomy: Make a plan to view the American eclipse safely – News – The Columbus Dispatch

If you haven’t already heard about it, the Great American Eclipse of 2017 is going to come your way on Aug. 21. Skies will darken to varying degrees at mid-afternoon across the entire USA on that day.

A total eclipse, where the sun is completely obscured by the moon, will be seen in a band that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. Columbus will see a partial eclipse of about 90 percent, which will still be pretty spectacular. The maximum darkness in Columbus is expected at about 2:30 pm that day.

There’s little doubt in my mind that you will hear multiple warnings about looking directly at the eclipse, even when using sunglasses. The 10 percent of the sun that gets past the eclipse is still dangerous to look at.

There are a number of products, such as special eclipse glasses, that will allow one to look at it safely. I certainly encourage everyone to not wait until the last minute and to get proper eye protection if you want to see this rare event. It’s a serious issue, as eye damage can result from looking at the eclipse without precautions.

If you have the opportunity to travel to a location in the path of the total eclipse, the experience can be breathtaking. When twilight comes in the middle of the day, it can be a very strange feeling and maybe even an unforgettable moment.

But be aware that hotels in the path of the total eclipse may be scarce. A friend of mine booked one almost a year ago, and told me back then that some hotels were already fully booked.

The next total eclipse visible in the U.S. will occur in 2024 and will mostly cross Texas. Although there have been a number of partial eclipses over the years, the last total eclipse that covered a large portion of the U.S. was in 1970. These events are pretty rare, and for children it can be a unique experience, so it’s worth putting some time and effort into planning how to view it safely.

Eclipses have long fascinated people. Centuries…

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