How to make the most of Augustís solar eclipse in Northeast Ohio

Campers at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center prepare for Aug. 21 with their solar eclipse glasses. Photo courtesy Lake Erie Nature & Science Center

On Monday, Aug. 21, Americans will witness nature’s most spectacular show — a total eclipse of the sun.

What is a solar eclipse? Well, the moon orbits Earth approximately every 27 days. A solar eclipse is the cosmic coincidence when the moon passes exactly between the Earth and the sun, thereby casting a shadow onto Earth and blocking our view of the sun.

Partial, total and annular eclipses can be viewed every so often depending on one’s geographic location on Earth, but next month will be the first time in 99 years that the United States will experience a coast-to-coast total solar eclipse. The path of the moon’s shadow, or where the eclipse reaches totality, will cover 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina. Unfortunately, the total solar eclipse will not be viewable in Northeast Ohio, but that doesn’t mean we will miss out on this celestial event.

If you are unable to travel to the path of totality, no need to worry. Nearly 80 percent of the sun’s disk will be covered by the moon in Northeast Ohio which is still an impressive sight to behold. Katy Accetta, astrophysicist and planetarium specialist at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, shares her tips on how to make the most of nature’s greatest sky show, right here in Northeast Ohio.

Plan your lunch break

Luckily, this year’s solar eclipse is happening right in the middle of the day. The moon will enter the solar disk at 1:06 p.m. and leave at 3:51 p.m. Maximum eclipse, or when the majority of the sun is covered by the moon, will be at 2:31 p.m. Plan your lunch break a little later than usual and head to an area that is free from the obstruction of trees and buildings to experience the eclipse.

Protect your eyes

It’s extremely important to protect your eyes during a solar eclipse. To prevent eye damage, order a pair of eclipse viewing glasses or number 14 welder’s glass prior to Aug. 21. Past claims have suggested using Mylar balloons or Pop-Tart wrappers as substitute eye protection during an eclipse, but this is unsafe and not recommended.

Avoid photos

It’s best to refrain from photographing the solar eclipse, especially if you are a first-time eclipse viewer. Not only is photography experience and advanced equipment necessary, but even then it is rare to capture the perfect photo. Plus, no photo will ever compare to witnessing a solar eclipse with your own eyes.

Save the date: On April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will pass directly over Northeast Ohio.

Want to learn more about this summer’s total solar eclipse? Visit Lake Erie Nature & Science Center for a Solar Eclipse Program, where you will enjoy an engaging planetarium presentation and take home a pair of eclipse viewers to wear on Aug. 21. Solar eclipse programs will run on Aug. 12, Aug. 13, Aug. 19 and Aug. 20 at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The fee is $5 per person; register in advance at lensc.org.

Morgan Paskert

Morgan Paskert is on staff at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center.

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Volume 9, Issue 14, Posted 9:58 AM, 07.18.2017