On Monday, the “Great American Eclipse” will pass across the United States. Here’s what Oklahomans need to know about the spectacle:
An eclipse happens because of periodic alignments of the sun, moon and Earth. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. During a total solar eclipse, the moon completely covers the sun. A total solar eclipse provides an opportunity to see the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona.
What’s so special about the eclipse?
The last time a total solar eclipse was visible from the contiguous United States, Jimmy Carter was president. That eclipse, which happened on Feb. 26, 1979, had a path that passed over a corner of the Pacific Northwest. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible coast to coast was in 1918.
Where can you see it?
Everyone in the contiguous United States, plus people in parts of South America, Africa and Europe, will see at least a partial solar eclipse. Those who are in the “path of totality” will see a total eclipse. The path of totality will pass through portions of 14 states in a swath about 70 miles wide, starting near Lincoln Beach, Ore., and ending near Charleston, S.C. Oklahoma is not in the path of totality, but parts of two neighboring states, Kansas and Missouri, are.
The times when the partial or total phases of the eclipse will be visible vary depending on location. NASA has created an interactive map that is available online to show times for viewing the eclipse based on location. In Oklahoma City, the partial eclipse will start at about 11:37 a.m. and end at about 2:34 p.m., according to NASA’s map. The maximum eclipse will be at 1:05 p.m.
When to watch?
People should never look at a partial eclipse without using proper eye protection, such as “eclipse glasses” or a “hand-held solar viewer.” Looking directly at the sun without proper eye protection can cause permanent damage or blindness. The American Astronomical Society has published a list of reputable vendors that are compliant with international safety standards. Goggles, homemade filters and sunglasses will not protect a person’s eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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People also should not look at the sun through a camera or other optical device while using eclipse glasses or a hand-held solar viewer because the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter the user’s eyes.
Children should be supervised when using solar filters. People should not look at the sun through an unfiltered camera or other optical devices.
People should not look at a partial eclipse without proper eye protection.