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2017 Solar Eclipse Information and Safety Tips

2017 Solar Eclipse Information and Safety Tips

On Monday August 21st, anyone within North America will be witness to a total solar eclipse of as the moon fully covers the sun. Be sure to mark your calendars and have your protective eyewear ready (discussed below) if you want to see it!  Everyone in the contiguous United States will be able to witness at least a partial solar eclipse.  In fact, everyone in North America plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will be able to see it as well, while the thin path of totality will pass through portions of 14 states.

A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon, and the Earth are in full alignment. Only those within the “path of totality,” the path that the moon’s shadow traces on Earth during a total solar eclipse, can experience this eye-catching phenomenon as it crosses the United States from West to East.  During this celestial event, the moon blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, from beginning to end, as viewed from a given location.  For this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds.  The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979.

Here is a link to a map indicating the path of totality.

New Jersey will remain outside the path of totality, so you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.  The solar eclipse will last approximately from 1:22PM to 4:00PM on Monday, August 21st.

Although this is a spectacular event, it is prudent to protect your eyes from the sun. During the actual eclipse, the sun blocks the sun’s bright face, making it safe to view; however, the moments leading up to it, and any time other than during this event, the dangerous brightness of the sun is exposed.

The safest way to view the sun outside of the total eclipse phase is through special-purpose solar filters, for example “eclipse glasses,” welder’s glasses of Shade 12 or higher, and telescopes with solar filters on the small end of the scope (do NOT use it with the filter on the large end or small filters that attach to the eyepiece!). Homemade filters and sunglasses are not safe. Also keep in mind it is not safe to use telescopes, binoculars, or cameras while wearing your eclipse glasses due to the concentrated solar rays that can damage the filter.

For additional safety information and suggested viewing techniques visit the following NASA webpage