The big day is here.
That rare event everyone’s talking about — when the moon passes between the sun and Earth to form a solar eclipse — will captivate people across the world early Monday afternoon. In the Toledo area, we’ll get what’s known as a partial eclipse because there won’t be total darkness. But we will get the full blackout when the next solar eclipse occurs in 2024.
In 2009, the sun was partially obscured by the moon during a solar eclipse, as seen from Hong Kong. Northwest Ohioans will have the opportunity to view a partial solar eclipse Monday afternoon.
In many parts of the continental United States, though, there will be a total eclipse, the first time in 38 years the phenomenon will be visible from the U.S. mainland. It is expected to be about 70 miles wide. According to NASA, the moon’s shadow will shroud 14 states in darkness for more than two minutes in the middle of the day.
The total eclipse will first be visible out on the West Coast in Oregon. Then, as the Earth rotates, the eclipse will move across the Lower 48 and unfold diagonally past South Carolina.
Alex Mak, associate director of the University of Toledo’s Ritter Planetarium, calls the event “a rare opportunity.”
The Ritter Planetarium is on the eastern edge of UT’s main campus, just south of Bancroft Street. It is short walking distance from a parking lot along North Towerview Blvd.
UT astronomers are planning to have several safely filtered telescopes set up outside for people to view this area’s partial eclipse. It may have a few solar eclipse glasses left for sale, and will make available a couple dozen viewing boxes, according to a news release. In the event of heavy cloud cover, a web stream of the eclipse from other parts of America will be shown in McMaster Hall Room 1005.
University of Toledo astronomers are planning to have several safely filtered telescopes set up outside Ritter Planetarium for people to view this area’s partial eclipse.
In our area, the moon is expected to move in front of the sun at 1:02 p.m. The eclipse will peak at 82 percent coverage in this part of the country at 2:27 p.m., and things should be back to normal in this area at precisely 3:48 p.m. — some 2 hours and 46 minutes of viewing, but less than three minutes of peak darkness.
“The eclipse has really captured everyone’s imagination,” said Laura Megeath, coordinator of the Appold Planetarium at Lourdes University. “We haven’t had a coast-to-coast eclipse for 99 years. It’s going to go over so many populated areas. More people will be able to see this eclipse than possibly any in the history of the United States.”
While Loudes is not hosting any public viewing events on campus Monday, the Bowling Green State University Planetarium offers an alternative to what UT’s Ritter Planetarium is doing.
Dale Smith, BGSU Planetarium director, agreed that about 80 percent of the eclipse will be visible in northwest Ohio.
Weather permitting, BGSU will have its rooftop observation deck open for visitors from about 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“People should avoid arriving at the last minute as the eclipse is ending, or we may not be able to get them to the Observatory in time,” Mr. Smith said.
From the rooftop deck, visitors can view the eclipse from telescopes equipped with safe-visual filters. Meet in the planetarium lobby for an escort, the university said.
BGSU also said it will have many eclipse glasses available for guests who want to watch from the lawn outside the planetarium.
“Regardless of the weather, we’ll have a webcast running in the [BGSU] Planetarium that will show images from along the path of totality along with commentary,” Mr. Smith said.
The BGSU Planetarium is in the Physical Sciences Laboratory Building, southeast of the corner of Merry Avenue and North College Drive.
The event has drawn so much excitement that there’s been a run on solar eclipse glasses.
Most places that thought they’d have enough have been wiped out.
The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library system has gone through hundreds. Most of its last remaining pairs were distributed in workshop kits leading up to the event, spokesman Ben Malczewski said, though it may have a few on hand for people to use at its new King Road Branch, where there will be a NASA live stream.
The Appold Planetarium began with 500 pairs, ordered another 250, and sold out of all 750 a couple of weeks ago. All that remains on campus are a limited number it held in reserve for Lourdes students, faculty, and staff, Ms. Megeath said.
Mr. Smith said it’s important not to yield to temptation and look directly at the eclipse, adding it “is not safe at any time during the eclipse to look at the sun” without eye protection.
Smithsonian Solar Eclipse and Total Solar Eclipse are two of several free apps for Apple and Android phones and tablets to view Monday’s celestial experience.
“Without this protection, people who do will get permanent and irreversible damage to their eyesight and could go blind,” he said.
Ms. Megeath said there are a lot of misconceptions about the solar eclipse, though. As recently as the 1970s, many people thought it might be emitting radiation harmful to women of child-bearing age. Centuries ago, eclipses were seen as evil omens.
“I can’t think of a culture that thought of an eclipse as a positive thing,” Ms. Megeath said. “Now, we can appreciate the beauty.”
Precautions are in order. But not panic, she said.
“We can reassure the public this is safe,” Ms. Megeath said. “There’s no need to stay inside with the blinds drawn. By explaining the science, we want to help people understand how to enjoy it and how to enjoy it safely.”
That starts with those special solar eclipse glasses.
Don’t fret if you don’t have them yet. You still might get your hands on a reputable pair at other viewing locations, such as downtown Toledo’s Imagination Station, which began distributing several on Saturday. A spokesman for the science center said the facility expects to still have a limited number to distribute at Monday’s viewing party at Festival Park, adjacent to the Imagination Station. She said a local media partner is bringing more.
Wherever you might try viewing Monday’s eclipse, though, make sure you have a reputable pair of safety glasses.
According to a news release from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office last week, the American Astronomical Society warns that it has received reports of fake solar eclipse glasses being sold.
“These glasses do not properly filter the sun’s rays and, in turn, may damage a person’s eyes. Previously, glasses with the seal of the International Organization for Standardization were considered safe. While all acceptable glasses are ISO certified, there is a chance that counterfeit glasses may also claim to be ISO certified,” the statement read.
Visit aas.org to find a reputable dealer, Mr. DeWine’s office said.
The AAS has a list of all merchants and vendors that guarantee their glasses will block enough light. Each of the companies on that site have been certified safe by authorities. Remember, ordinary sunglasses don’t protect your eyes from permanent damage. Stacking multiple pairs of ordinary sunglasses doesn’t work, either.
Test ’em if you’ve got ’em.
According to the AAS, you shouldn’t be able to see anything except the sun itself if you have proper solar eclipse glasses; you shouldn’t see other lights, normal brightness, pinholes, or tears.
The state attorney general’s office also advises people not to use a solar filter on their cameras, binoculars, or telescopes without first seeking advice from an astronomer.
NASA said it will have Janet Kavandi, the space agency’s Glenn Research Center director, on its official live NASA TV broadcast talking about the eclipse as it happens. The Glenn Research Center is based in Cleveland, and oversees activities of NASA’s Plum Brook station near Sandusky.
The event has already brought acclaim to a 1976 UT graduate, Fred Espenak, whose photography was used by the U.S. Postal Service as the basis for a highly unique stamp combining two images.
A photo of the sun’s total eclipse transforms into an image of a full moon upon touch. The stamp is unique in that it has thermochromic ink that reacts to body heat. The stamp went on sale June 20.
Mr. Espenak has traveled to each continent to document and experience 27 eclipses.
He worked 31 years at NASA after earning his bachelor’s degree in physics at UT. His eclipse image that appeared on the stamp was photographed in the Libyan desert in 2006. His shot of the full moon was taken at his observatory in Arizona.