Chances are, if you’ve been on the internet at all within the past week, two weeks or even month, you’ve probably heard about the solar eclipse coming to a sky near you on Monday, August 21. (Hey, isn’t there something else important happening at UCO on that day? Oh yeah! Welcome back, Bronchos!)
What even is a solar eclipse?
Basically, the moon passes between the sun and Earth, blocking all or part of the sun for up to three hours, from beginning to end. However, for this eclipse, the longest time that the moon will completely block the sun, at any given location, will be for a little less than 3 minutes (2 minutes and 40 seconds, to be exact).
So, what’s the big deal with this solar eclipse anyway?
Well, we’re glad you asked. The last time the United States saw a total eclipse was in 1979. That’s almost 40 years ago. Think about it. In 1979, the Soviet Union was still a thing, ESPN was born, Michael Jackson dropped his first solo album, gas was 86 cents per gallon and your parents were probably still in elementary school. So, needless to say, a total solar eclipse (that we can actually see) is super rare.
Well then, how can I see it?
Another great question! We asked Dr. David Stapleton, a professor in Central’s College of Mathematics and Science, to help spill the tea on all of this eclipse stuff.
“We will not be in the path of totality for the eclipse here in Oklahoma. For example, in OKC, only about 84% of the sun will be eclipsed at the peak eclipse time,” Dr. Stapleton said.
That means that we’ll see a little bit of the sun, but most of it will be covered by the moon. However, it’ll still be a pretty cool sight. BUT there are some important safety tips that you should follow.
“Here in Oklahoma, eye damage will occur when looking at the sun all during the eclipse, unless appropriate glasses are worn,” said Dr. Stapleton. “The eclipse may also be viewed indirectly, such as by viewing its image projected through a pinhole in the back of a box or onto the ground.”
So, if you’re strolling along campus on the first day of classes during the eclipse, don’t look up at the sun! WE REPEAT, DON’T LOOK UP AT THE SUN (unless you’re prepared).
But, I WANT to see the eclipse, how do I get prepared?
Unfortunately, at this point, the majority of solar glasses are sold out. However, a little bird (Dr. Stapleton) told us that there might be solar glasses available at Westlake Ace Hardware, near the registers. There are A LOT of solar glasses being sold online that ARE NOT safe to look through during the eclipse. However, here’s a list from NASA (they kinda know about suns and moons and things) about where you can safely buy solar glasses (if they’re still available).
If they’re not available, don’t worry! With the help of some good, old-fashioned arts and crafts, you can still view the eclipse. Try making your own eclipse viewfinder for your camera, or you can make one out of a box. You can also try pinhole projection.
Whatever way you’re going to view it, make sure it’s the safe way (so you don’t go blind). Check out these tips from NASA on how to safely view the eclipse.
Want more information?
Visit the official Total Solar Eclipse 2017 website. And make sure to watch this cool video from NPR: