You may have heard that a total solar eclipse will sweep across the country on Monday afternoon, in a narrow band from the Northwest to the Southeast. Here in the Garden State, the moon will block out about 75 percent of the sun.
- Don’t expect total darkness, rather a dimming like a storm cloud passing in front of the sun, says astronomer Kevin D. Conod, manager of the Dreyfuss Planetarium at the Newark Museum.
- The dimming will begin around 1:22 pm, with maximum effect at about 2:45 and the final emergence of the sun from shadow at about 4 pm.
- Something worth looking for during the eclipse? The planet Venus. Conod says that if you look “below and to the right of the sun, you might spot Venus in the sky. It’s pretty darn bright. If it’s not too hazy or cloudy, you might see it. It will look like a star, but it will be Venus.”
- We probably don’t need to remind you, but we will: DO NOT look directly at the sun unless you are wearing genuine solar filter glasses. Sunglasses? No protection! The American Astronomical Association has an article on safe viewing of the eclipse HERE. Reputable vendors of solar filters? The Association’s list is HERE.
- Unique Photo in Fairfield has an article on safety in eclipse photography HERE. The store’s website says it still has solar filters and solar filter glasses in stock and will ship them. One store representative said he did not recommend trying to shoot the eclipse with a smartphone. “You’ll probably fry it,” he said. Our cautionary suggestion: If you insist on trying it, put a solar filter in front of the phone’s lens.
- You can make your own “pinhole” viewer. We put pinhole in quotes because a literal pinhole in a sheet of oaktag or thin cardboard isn’t big enough. The hole, says Conod, should be about 1/8 of an inch in diameter. Hold the sheet facing the sun while looking down at another sheet of paper or thin cardboard so that the image of the sun is projected onto the lower sheet:
7. The Newark Museum and the Planetarium are closed on Mondays, this Monday included. But a small viewing party will be held in the Horizon Plaza next to the museum during the hours of the eclipse. “We will have some pinhole viewers for viewing and probably the live feed from NASA,” Conod says.
8. The NASA eclipse site is HERE. It includes science info, history, safety tips, weather forecasts and more.
9. Many museums and local libraries are hosting eclipse viewing parties, programs and informative websites. These include the Great American Eclipse at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City and the Edelman Planetarium at Rowan University in Glassboro. Unique Photo will hold a cookout and shooting party in its Fairfield parking lot, with advice for photographers. Details HERE.
10. Don’t look for Conod in Newark on Monday. Like many astronomers around the world, he is traveling to the band of totality to witness the full effect and to record data. He and many of his colleagues will be in Idaho, at an elevation around 6,000 feet, where the air is clear and the totality effect should be stunning.