Prepare for Aug. 21 solar eclipse

courtesy of NASA

We are now less than two weeks away from the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. The eclipse with cross the entire country from coast-to-coast for the first time since 1918.

The path of the total solar eclipse will begin in Oregon and end by crossing through South Carolina. The eclipse itself will last about one hour and 40 minutes.

Here in Michigan we are not in the path of totality so we will see a partial solar eclipse with more than half of the sun covered by the moon. But regardless of the fact that we won’t see a total solar eclipse it will still be something worth seeing.

Below is a picture courtesy of NASA of the eclipse at its maximum over Michigan.

In preparation for the Aug. 21 eclipse here are some things to keep in mind if you plan to watch:

Here in Michigan we will start to see the moon cross into the sun’s path at around 1:01 PM. The eclipse will reach its maximum over us at around 2:24 PM. The eclipse will end with the moon moving out of the sun’s path at around 3:44 PM.

It is NEVER safe to look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse, so if you plan to watch you will need special eyeglasses or equipment. Here is a list of reputable website where you can buy eclipse glasses to safely view this once in a lifetime event.

If you don’t want glasses you can also make a Pinhole projector to view the eclipse. This is a fun craft to make with kids, but make sure you make the box correctly or you could hurt your eyes trying to view the eclipse. Here is step by step video on how to make one.

There are a lot of scams out there so be sure to only buy glasses approved by the American Astronomical Society. All those on the above list are approved. Eclipse glasses are equipped with the proper filters to minimize ultraviolet, visible and infrared light.

If you want to take a picture or video of the eclipse on your phone or with a professional camera you will also need to make some preparations.

Of course you can take a picture on your phone or other device of the eclipse without a filter, but since we won’t have totality here in Michigan they won’t turn out that well.

The best bet for pictures is to get a telephoto lens for your camera. You’ll what one that comes with a tripod so pictures don’t come out blurry.

Here is an article from NASA on how to take a good photo of the eclipse. But remember don’t get your hopes up for stunning pictures with just your smart phone, and the best viewing of the eclipse will come from your own (Safely guarded) eyes. (It is NEVER safe to look at the sun without protection even during an eclipse!) Your best bet is to put the phone down and enjoy the show, the maximum coverage of the eclipse will only last about two and half minutes.

Be prepared for spotty cell phone coverage in a few locations. Rural areas may experience brief outages in regards to their cell phones. These will be brief and shouldn’t have too large on an impact.

Also be prepared to feel the temperature drop. When the sun is blocked we will cool off quickly. Those in the path of totality could see the mercury drop as much as 20 degrees. Since we are not in the path of totality we won’t drop that much, but it will be cooler until the eclipse passes. Winds will also lighten while the eclipse is happening.

The August 21 solar eclipse will be a sight to see! We won’t see another solar eclipse until 2024 and that will cross through the southern U.S. So this will be our best viewing for many years to come.

Enjoy the eclipse safely!

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