Look! Up in the sky!

Safely enjoy Monday’s total eclipse through local events

You can’t say you didn’t see it coming.

 

The whole country has been buzzing about the total solar eclipse that’s going to cross the entire United States on Monday.

That includes Augusta. The Chronicle reported Wednesday that the certified “eclipse glasses” recommended to view the phenomenon are becoming harder to find locally.

But that’s just one way you can safely view the moon covering the sun. Dr. Ryan Tanner, of Augusta University’s Department of Chemistry and Physics, says you also can use specially filtered binoculars or telescopes; a magnified projection through a lens onto a flat surface; or a pinhole projector. To make one, just punch a hole with a pin through a piece of paper or cardboard, and catch the light that shines through it on another piece of paper or cardboard.

Just as directly staring at the sun is a bad idea, experts advise people not to look directly at the eclipse without serious eye protection. We hope you can take the opportunity to view it. After all, something like this doesn’t come long every day.

Everyone in North America should be able to see it, but only folks within a 70-mile-wide “path of totality” will see the characteristic black hole completely blocking the sun. In the Augusta area, the closest places to view along that path are in South Carolina, around Aiken and Edgefield.

If you want to learn more, Augusta University is playing host to a Solar Eclipse Community Symposium today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., in the Maxwell Theatre. On the day of the eclipse, the campus is holding a Solar Eclipse Celebration to better educate the public on how to best view this rare event. Take advantage of them if you can.

The last time a total solar eclipse crossed our nation like this was June 8, 1918, and Augustans back then were excited about it, too. It hit the city before sunset. Here’s how The Chronicle reported it:

“Augustans, old, young and middle-aged left evening meals become cold and other duties to care for themselves as they turned into the streets and other points of vantage by the hundreds at approximately 6:30 Saturday evening to view with colored glasses the first partial eclipse of the sun in 80 years.”

Actually the eclipse was total, but just near-total from Augusta’s perspective, like it will be Monday.

The article got another aspect of the event wrong, too:

“Scientists are agreed that another such performance will not be seen on Earth for at least 300 years.”

Not quite. The last total solar eclipse visible in Georgia and South Carolina occurred March 7, 1970. The last total solar eclipse that even touched the continental United States happened in 1979.

In ancient times eclipses were viewed much differently. The Mayans thought a giant jaguar was eating the sun. In China it was a dragon. The Vikings thought dogs were responsible.

But we like the theory posited by some Australian aborigines: An eclipse was the joining of the sun and moon as husband and wife.

That’s one way to look at the eclipse. Just make sure your eyes are protected.

 

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