A Solar Eclipse is Coming to Oregon

 

On the morning of Monday August 21, 2017 there will be a total solar eclipse visible from some places in Oregon! Below are some FAQs about this exciting celestial event. 

 

 

Please note: The Science Factory is SOLD OUT of eclipse glasses.

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS A TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE?

 

A total solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the Earth and sun, blocking the sun from view for a short amount of time. During a total solar eclipse the darkest part of the moon's shadow called the "umbra" falls on the Earth for a few hours. For viewers standing in the umbra, they will get to see the sun get completely blocked by the moon for a few minutes. During this short amount of time, the daytime sky darkens to deep twilight, the temperature drops by several degrees, bright stars and planets pop into view, and the sun's shimmering outer atmosphere called the "corona" becomes visible. This experience is called "totality" and it will only last for 1-2 minutes for the August 21 eclipse. Totality is only visible in the places where the moon's umbra passes over during the eclipse, called the "path of totality" which will cross the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21. 

 

 

WHAT HAPPENS BEFORE AND AFTER TOTALITY?

 

If you are in the path of totality, you can watch as the moon slowly covers up the sun before totality and then slowly uncovers it after totality. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes for the moon to cover up the sun and the same amount of time to uncover it again. The times when the moon is blocking only a part of the sun are called the "partial phases" of the solar eclipse. 

 

 

WHAT IF I AM NOT IN THE PATH OF TOTALITY?

 

For viewers who are close to but not in the path of totality, they will get to see many of the partial phases of the eclipse. On August 21, all of North America will get to see some of the partial phases. The rule of thumb is that the closer you are to the path of totality, the more of the sun will get blocked by the moon. Everyone in Oregon state will get to see the moon block at least 90% of the sun. 

 

 

IS IT SAFE TO WATCH A TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE?

 

The sun is so bright that you can seriously damage your eyes if you stare at it. This is true as long as any part of the sun's bright surface is visible, which is during all of the partial phases of the eclipse. To safely view the eclipse, we recommend getting solar eclipse glasses, which are inexpensive and safe for direct solar viewing. Please read and follow all safety information printed on your glasses and carefully inspect them between each use to ensure that the lenses are not scratched or torn. The only time and place that it is ever safe to remove your eclipse glasses and look directly at the eclipse is during the brief moments of totality and only if you are inside the path of totality. At all other times, please protect your eyes!

 

 

HOW DO I KNOW MY ECLIPSE GLASSES ARE SAFE?

 

We recommend getting your eclipses glasses from a reputable source. If you buy eclipse glasses locally, ask the seller where they ordered their eclipse glasses. Here is a list of safe, reputable manufacturers of eclipses glasses, as well as retail chains that carry them. We recommend reading this article from the American Astronomical Society about how to tell if your glasses are safe. A good way to test your glasses is to put them on and look around you. Safe certified eclipse glasses will block out so much light that everything will look completely dark, except the sun and perhaps the filament of an unfosted incandescent light bulb. Looking at the sun through safe eclipse glasses shouldn't be uncomfortable to look at -- it should look fairly dim and not cause bright spots in your vision if you look away. You also want to make sure you inspect your glasses before every use to make sure the lenses are not scratched or punctured. If the lenses are scratched, they are not safe to use. 

 

 

WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE ECLIPSE GLASSES BY AUGUST 21?

 

You can safely and indirectly view the eclipse using the pinhole projection method. Poke a small hole through a piece of paper, foil, or cardboard and let the sunlight shine through the hole and on to the ground or another piece of paper to see a projected image of the eclipse. You can also look at the ground underneath a tree to see hundreds of crescents projected below by the gaps in between leaves. 

 

 

ARE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSES REALLY RARE?

 

Total solar eclipses happen when the Earth, moon and sun all line up perfectly in space. On average, this happens once every 18 months, which isn't especially rare. What makes seeing a total solar eclipse so special is that when they occur, they are only visible from about 1% of the Earth. The last total solar eclipse visible in Oregon was in 1979. The next one visible in Oregon will be in 2108, and that one will only be visible from a few cities on the Oregon coast. 

 

 

WHERE CAN I GO TO SEE THE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE?

 

Eugene and Springfield are NOT in the path of totality for the August 21 eclipse. See this list for all towns in Oregon that will be in the path of totality. Use this Interactive Map to make your eclipse plans. Zoom in and click on the map to see timing information and the duration of totality from a specific location. If you click on a location outside the path of totality, you will see how much of the sun will be blocked at maximum eclipse  For Eugene and Springfield maximum obscuration will be about 99% which will happen at about 10:17 AM PDT in Eugene. For viewers in Eugene the moon will start covering the sun around 9:04 AM and finish uncovering the sun around 11:37 AM PDT.

 

 

99% IN EUGENE AND SPRINGFIELD IS REALLY CLOSE TO 100%... IS IT REALLY WORTH IT TO TRAVEL TO THE PATH OF TOTALITY?

 

Yes! When it comes to solar eclipses, the difference between 99% and 100% is a lot greater than you might think. The small sliver of sunlight that will remain visible in Eugene and Springfield is enough to ruin the best part of the show. When people say that a solar eclipse is an awe-inspiring and life changing experience, they aren't talking about the partial phases of the eclipse. They are talking about the experience of totality which you will miss if you do not travel into the path of totality.

 

 

HOW CAN I LEARN MORE?

 

Don't miss our live planetarium show all about the eclipse! It is a great opportunity to get your eclipse questions answered. We also recommend checking out NASA's page for all things Eclipse related: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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