On April 8, 2024, a total eclipse of the sun will be visible across North America.

“A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the Sun’s, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs only in a narrow path across Earth’s surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometres wide” (Wikipedia)

My home will be in the narrow band of totality. I am quite excited as this will be the first one I have seen. And it will be the only one too. “While a total eclipse is not rare, the opportunity to observe an eclipse from the same location is incredibly rare. A total solar eclipse takes about 375 years to happen again in the same location.” (Smith) Now, in October, there was a partial eclipse in my town that I did see. That was a very weird experience. I am used to the sunlight fading as the day is ending, but to see twilight at midday was frankly rather bizarre.

I am also very surprised at the number of visitors expected to visit my little Texas town to see the eclipse. “Known as umbraphiles, which means shadow lovers, eclipse chasers are known to plan their world travels around pursuing eclipses.” (Smith) The city fathers are proposing 50,000 people and encouraging residents to stock their pantries and stay off the roads.

Viewing the eclipse is not straightforward as looking directly at the sun can result in burns on the retina. The safest way to view is to aim a telescope at the sun and project the image into a white card. Using special, very dark glasses will allow a direct view. This method gives a great image. I use glasses for the partial eclipse and was happy with the experience. Be sure to use approved glasses. “Legitimate eclipse glasses must meet specific international safety standards known as ISO 12312-2. Testing requires a spectrophotometer that measures how much ultraviolet, visible and infrared light gets through the glasses.” (Kolata) One fun method is to hold a colander between the sun and a white card. Each of the little holes in the colander will create an image of the eclipsed sun.


ImagePhoto of 1999 total eclipse taken by Luc Viatour (https://Lucnix.be).

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Deepy (Deepthinker Oh) is an educational psychologist with a long standing love of journalism and previous experience as the editor of MANIERA magazine. Deepthinker Oh's use of the SLBN logo does not constitute approval by or a representation or endorsement from Linden Lab.

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