Eclipse once in a lifetime event


By Jim Poole

Monday’s solar eclipse will be a pretty good show for Schoharie County, even if a total eclipse won’t be visible here.
And although the eclipse is far from total, viewers must take precautions to protect their eyes.
A solar eclipse has the moon passing between Earth and the sun, blocking the sun’s rays to Earth. Monday’s eclipse will be the first to cross the continental US since 1918, according to a website about eclipses.
Alan French of the Albany Area Amateur Astronomers, a group that holds programs at the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, said 67 percent of the sun will be blocked for Cobleskill viewers.
The moon will first creep across the sun at 1:21pm.
“The moon will slide off at 3:56,” Mr. French said. “It takes a while.”
Maximum coverage of the sun will occur at 2:41, he added.
Monday’s eclipse will be a bit more unusual that other solar eclipses because “the apparent size of the sun and the apparent size of the moon are about the same,” said Betsy Whitlock, also with the Albany Astronomers.
That means the moon will block out virtually all of the sun in the path of totality. That path is a narrow band that will run from Oregon to South Carolina.
The entire trip across the US will take about seven and a half hours.
Both Mr. French and Ms. Whitlock said that professional astronomers don’t pay much attention to partial eclipses.
“Some say they’re boring,” Mr. French said. “But a partial is kind of fun.”
“There’s a lot of interest in this one,” Ms. Whitlock added.
Both urged caution when viewing the partial eclipse. Special eclipse glasses or a shade 14 welder’s filter are necessary.
And, Ms. Whitlock added, don’t use binoculars over the glasses or welder’s filter.
“Binoculars will concentrate the sun’s rays,” she said. “You cannot do that.”
Viewing without any protection is dangerous, Mr. French added.
“It’s never safe with the naked eye,” he said. “The retina can’t feel pain and you can burn it without knowing.”
Eclipse glasses are available at many locations around the Capital District, at local libraries, including Middleburgh and Sharon Springs. Welder’s shade 14 filters are available at welding supply stores, Mr. French said.
Although she agreed that partial eclipses are interesting, Ms. Whitlock isn’t messing around with a partial in New York. She’s heading to Jasper, Wyoming.
“It’s going to be a madhouse,” Ms. Whitlock laughed.
The kicker, of course, for any eclipse––partial or total––is the weather. All are hoping for clear skies.
“We don’t want any clouds,” Mr. French said.
He suggested two