Solar Eclipse Tips

August 16 2017
Category: Academics

On Monday, August 21, 2017, people in most of the continental United States will be able to view a solar eclipse. This is one of the most dramatic events in astronomy and to get ready we sat down with Dr. Charlie Jacobson, Associate Professor of Mathematics.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse is the passage of the Moon's shadow across the face of the Earth. In a total solar eclipse, the Sun's disk is completely covered by the Moon. A partial solar eclipse occurs when the Moon only covers a portion of the Sun's disk.

Here in Elmira, we will observe a partial eclipse, beginning around 1:15 pm, and ending just before 4:00 pm. At its peak around 2:40 pm, about 72% of the Sun's disk will be covered. This means that 28% of the Sun’s disk is left uncovered.

How can you view the sun eclipse?

There are eclipse calculators based on zip codes that show where and what time the eclipse will be visible in your area. Keep in mind, receiving only 28% of the normal sunlight might sound like a big reduction, but the Sun is extremely bright. If the skies are clear on Monday, you may not notice the dimming at all. Do not ever look at the Sun directly, even during an eclipse. That 28% of the Sun's disk left uncovered will be enough to permanently damage your vision. Sunglasses do not offer enough protection.

Some companies provide special "eclipse-viewing" glasses, but you should only use the ones that NASA recommends. As an alternative, you can construct an indirect viewer, similar in idea to a pinhole camera, using a box and some printer paper. Be sure to view the eclipse, but please do so safely.

 Elmira College Soaring Eagle mascot with solar eclipse glasses on.


Be sure to grab your NASA-approved eclipse viewing glasses and stay tuned to the Elmira College Snapchat and other social media accounts on Monday for more solar eclipse facts and fun.