Tips for viewing the solar eclipse on Monday

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2017

Monday will be a day to remember, if the clouds don’t block the view.
A solar eclipse will occur that day and if the skies are clear it will be viewable in Pearl River County. While certain areas will see a total eclipse, residents in Pearl River County will see about 85 percent blockage of the sun by the moon. The event is expected to start just before noon, but won’t peak until about 1:30 p.m.
In preparation for the event, the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library held a presentation by Dr. John Grant, a former educator and administrator at Pearl River Community College.
During the presentation, Grant spoke about how previous societies explained eclipses before science gave a definitive answer and shared tips on how to view the eclipse safely.
Before astronomy provided clear explanations why eclipses occur, previous societies explained the celestial occurrence as a giant frog or dragon eating the sun, Grant said. He said that explanation was the only way people could give reason to such a sight without science.
“You’d be terrified and want to explain it,” Grant said.
Solar eclipses are actually more common than people may think, they just don’t occur in the same place on the planet very often. Grant said that’s because of the moon’s five-degree tilt in its orbit. Even though the planets in our solar system are mostly on the same orbital plane, several are either higher or lower. This variation between the moon and Earth is why a solar eclipse is not a monthly occurrence, Grant said.
The next solar eclipse that will be viewable in the continental United States is expected to occur on April 8, 2024.
While using facts about the orbit of the Earth and moon allows an astronomer to predict when lunar and solar eclipses will occur, the variation in the Earth’s orbit due to tidal friction creates hurdles, Grant said.
He also shared some tips about viewing the eclipse safely, especially for those planning to view it in Pearl River County since part of the sun will still be visible. While people who will be in the path of the total eclipse can look directly at the event during totality without safety glasses, that won’t be the case here. Some people who possess welding goggles may think the eyewear is safe to use to look at the sun, but Grant urged caution. He said that not all welding goggles block the harmful ultra violet rays of the sun. The only safe way to look directly at the sun is to use glasses specifically made for that purpose. Grant advised people to only buy those glasses from reputable sellers, because counterfeit versions are circulating.
Residents who have access to a telescope should be sure to use a solar filter during the event, otherwise they could damage their eyes, Grant said. The same is true for people planning to use a camera.
Anyone interested in viewing the eclipse who does not have the proper eye protection can project an image of it to a piece of paper or through a box. Instructions for making several kinds of viewers can be found at

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