Partial Solar Eclipse For Most Of N. America Tomorrow Evening

I will be spending much of today preparing for the eclipse tomorrow. (10/23/14) Here in W. Tn. we should see around 40% coverage, just less than half of the sun eaten by our moon. I am stoked for this event, for two reasons. One the forecast calls for clear skies, and two I am just that much of a nerdy science loving geek.

The eclipse will begin right around 5:00 PM CST.

Standard boilerplate warning. Do not look at the eclipse directly. Do not look at the sun with binoculars or a telescope without proper filtration, unless burning the eyes out of your sockets sounds like a good time. I have heard that a welders helmet is safe, and not safe, so that one I would call risky. Old cheap telescope kits used to offer a solar viewing eyepiece, they should not be used if you have them as they have been proven likely to explode, that sounds fun.

The only way to properly view the sun, or an eclipse, is to use a telescope or binoculars with proper modern filtration. More specifically with either a Mylar filter or a white light glass filter. Or you can use a decent quality telescope as a projector. Setup a white board, and let the telescope project the image upon the board.

There are Ha (hydrogen alpha) telescopes built specifically for viewing the sun, they are the cats meow, but terribly expensive. I wish I had one…

There are also solar viewing glasses on the market that allow you to look at the sun safely.

Then there is the option of building a cheap solar viewing box, with a shoe box and some tin foil. Instructions abound on the internet. When I was a young lad, there was a total eclipse where I lived. Our school teacher had us all bring in supplies to build one of these, and I was able to experience my first total eclipse with it. It was an amazing experience I still remember to this day. When the sun goes dark the birds and critters go quiet. There is an eerie calm I will never forget. The box worked like a charm.

Here is a link to one such solar viewer made from a box, although the one I had as a kid, we just cut a viewing hole in the top of the box, and did not stick our head in the box…?

http://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/make-pinhole-projector.html

Another one here, remember the longer the box, the bigger the sun appears through the viewing hole.

http://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/how.html

I will be setting up with two telescopes. One a 90mm achromat* refractor by way of the projection view upon a whiteboard, the other a nice quality 80mm apochromatic** refractor telescope using a full aperture white light filter. I hope to get many pictures. I used this same setup a while back for the Venus transit with pretty decent results. (I should dig up those old pics and post a few)

Most of N. America will experience this event. While not as spectacular as a total eclipse, a partial is still pretty cool, so get properly rigged up and go out there to see it! I am sure it will be live streamed as well, the internet is good for stuff like that, but there is nothing quite like actuall experiencing events like this.

Oh…in 2017 there will be a total eclipse of the sun. The maximum duration of this eclipse will be an hours drive from here. Guess where I will be?  🙂  The eclipse will be viewable from where I live, but I can gain precious seconds by taking a short drive. I can’t wait.

* Achromat refers to a refracting telescopes converging of color. An achromat focuses most, but not all, of the colors in the spectrum to the same focal point. Plainly speaking you will get a violet fringe on bright objects.

** Apochromat is a refractor lens designed to more adequetly focus the spectrum, reducing or eliminating this violet/purple fringing. The apo requires much more work to get done properly, resulting in a higher cost/ better peformance ratio.

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