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00000179-cdc6-d978-adfd-cfc6d7fa0000Countdown to August 21We're sure you know by now that a total solar eclipse will make its way from Oregon to South Carolina on Monday, August 21, but are you prepared? Eleven states are in the path of total darkness. KMUW has information on the proper ways to watch a solar eclipse, historical context, and ways to mark this much-anticipated celestial event. And on August 21, you can follow the astronomical phenomenon's journey across America along with KMUW, Kansas News Service, and NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse.In the meantime, peruse our stories below, including Deborah Shaar's feature on How To Watch A Solar Eclipse Safely, Beth Golay's Marginalia interview with David Baron, author of American Eclipse, and here are some great resources from our friends at SciFri!

Watching Next Month's Solar Eclipse? Here's How To Do It Safely.

eclipse_glasses.jpg
NASA HQ PHOTO
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Creative Commons, flickr

A total solar eclipse will happen Monday, Aug. 21, and parts of northeast Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska are among the best places to view it.

If you are planning to watch the eclipse, the experts say do it safely.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon blocks any part of the sun. In the Wichita area, a partial eclipse will be visible for about two to three hours midday.

Only communities in a 70-mile path from coast to coast will experience a total eclipse, where the moon will fully cover the sun for about two and a half minutes.

Harold Henderson, director of the Lake Afton Public Observatory, says eye protection is needed to view an eclipse to prevent permanent eye damage. The ultraviolet light produced by the sun produces sunburns on your skin, and it can also produce burns inside the eye, as there’s a fair amount of infrared light. Those are the more typical burns due to heat.

Henderson says safe and proper methods to view an eclipse include using a pinhole projector, solar filters on telescopes or binoculars, or special solar glasses.

"For an unmagnified view, the eclipse glasses are probably the most simple, straightforward, and easiest to use and readily available this time around," he says. "You don’t have to go hunting for them for weeks at a time and hope you get them in time."

Lake Afton Public Observatory is hosting three solar viewing seminars in August to provide information and tips on safe eclipse viewing.

The last time a total eclipse was visible in the U.S. was in 1979.

NASA TV will be streaming live video of the eclipse on August 21 along with providing interactive web content. Visit: https://www.nasa.gov/eclipselive

NASA Eye Safety Tips:

  • Never stare directly at the sun without eye protection
  • Use special-purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewer for direct viewing
  • Use a pinhole projector for indirect viewing
  • Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses are not safe for direct viewing

Some local organizations are planning solar eclipse watch events:
Exploration Place, Wichita:

11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., free, in the Festival Plaza, view the solar eclipse using special glasses (provided to the first 500 guests) or solar telescopes.

The Cosmosphere and Hutchinson Public Library, Hutchinson:

11 a.m. to 3 p.m., free, in the Cosmosphere’s south parking lot, view the eclipse using the Cosmosphere’s special solar telescope and binoculars and receive a pair of eclipse glasses (supplies limited).

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

 

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.