Are you ready for Monday? How are you enjoying the eclipse?

by beth on August 17, 2017

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Above: If you got your glasses for the eclipse, you may want to test them out. If you didn’t, it’s time to think about how you plan to view the event. (image left by Beth Melo, right cropped from photo posted to flickr by Matt Hecht)

We’ve been hearing about the coming solar eclipse all summer. Now, it’s just four days away. In our area, the event will begin at 1:26 pm, peak at 2:45, and end at 3:59 pm.

Some people have booked travel to total eclipse territory. But for the rest of us, the only view we’ll have is the partial eclipse. You know, the view that scientists warn is dangerous to look at unequipped.*

My family already bought (and tested) our safety compliant eclipse glasses.** But I know some readers may not have gotten their hands on any yet. So, what can you do?

If you plan to rush order a pair, make sure they aren’t slipshod knockoffs. (Check out info on NASA’s website.)

Or, you can head to the Shrewsbury Library on Monday afternoon. Starting at 1:00 pm, they are holding a drop-in program and will have 200 pairs of glasses for visitors to use at their event that day.***

If neither of those options work for you – there are other ways to enjoy the event.

You can "view" the eclipse by looking at images cast by a colander (image from flickr by John Lord)You may have heard of using pinhole viewers or projectors. Instead of looking at the sun, you look at the image projected through the pinhole onto the ground or a sheet of paper. I heard one scientist on WGBH say that you can easily get that same effect, multiplied, by using a simple colander. (Click on image right for an example.)

Though we’re not in the path of totality, NASA scientists are still interested in our experiences. You can expect dramatic temperature changes and possible effects on clouds. If you or your family want to participate in their data collection, you can download the app Globe Observer.

library telescope contributedIf the whole experience wakes up your inner astronomer – you may want to check out the Southborough Library’s telescope borrowing program. Don’t try to look at the eclipse through their devices. But you can borrow one to gaze at the nighttime stars.

(The compact and easy-to-use telescope can be borrowed from the library just as you would a book or a movie. Stop by the upstairs desk or call 508-485-5031 for details.)

If you have children entering 6th or 8th grade this fall, I’d make a special effort to engage them in the event. According to the Trottier website, both grades will be learning about the eclipse in school this year.

I’ve personally found all the hoopla has inspired mixed feelings in me. I’m a little bummed out that we won’t get to experience the “majesty” of the total effect. On the bright side, we have another chance in less than seven years.

An eclipse will be crossing the US again on Monday, April 8, 2024. That afternoon, the path will pass through New England. Southborough isn’t in the path of totality. But it’s not that many hours of driving to see it from New York, Vermont, or Maine. (Hmm. Our schools are re-evaluating vacation schedules. Maybe I should lobby for that to be a spring break week!)

Do you have any special plans or tips for enjoying the solar event? Post a comment below.

*If you’re skeptical that eye protection is necessary, check out an explanation by The Washington Post. 

**Even if you already have your glasses, you still may want to double check they meet safety standards. They should list compliance the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. If they are used, they shouldn’t be scratched or rumpled.

It’s also recommended you take glasses for a test run in advance. My family tested ours yesterday by just walking out to a sunny area, putting them on, and looking up. (It was surprising to see how small the sun looks when it’s not a blinding ball of light.) 

**Sorry, the Southborough Library doesn’t have glasses to give out. The closest library I could find with a program our residents can take advantage of was Shrewsbury, and they are all out of their “giveaway” glasses. (Westborough is giving away glasses – but only to their residents.)

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