By Olivia Buster ’20
On August 21st, a total solar eclipse of the sun will only be viewable from America in 14 different states.
Total solar eclipses occur when the New Moon comes in between the sun and the earth. Total eclipses aren’t rare, these eclipses averagely take place twice every 3 years. However, a total eclipse of the sun viewable from both the American East and West coast is unusual. The last visible solar eclipse from coast to coast took place 100 years ago.
Viewers will have the ability to witness all sorts of interesting phenomena during the total eclipse. The lower atmosphere of the Sun, known as the chromosphere, will emit a reddish glow. Shadow bands appear on the Earth’s surface, alternating wavy lines of light and dark immediately before and after the eclipse. Gaps between mountains and valleys on the moon filters sunlight in places and causes an effect known as Bailey’s Beads. Bailey’s Beads is also known as the diamond ring, due to how the blots of light lining the moon resemble shining diamonds on a ring. The plasma that encircles the Sun and other stars is called the corona, which will become apparent during the eclipse as well. As the sky darkens, stars and planets hidden by the sun’s light will come into sight.
Although Columbus won’t be in the path of a total eclipse, the city will encounter a partial eclipse at 1:04 p.m. that will last for 2 hours and 48 minutes. A partial eclipse occurs when the moon blocks half of the Sun’s surface. Although not a total eclipse, a partial eclipse is still a unique sight. “Everybody should be going outside and looking at this thing, because even when it’s not total, the sun is going to be down to this little sliver and there’s going to be all sorts of things you’re going to see and weird phenomenon,” Dr. Panero, an Earth scientist professor at Ohio State University, said. “I spend a lot of time teaching how the solar system works, orbits of the Earth around the Sun, orbits of the moon around the Earth. It’s kind of one of the standard things to teach in earth science, is how do you get lunar eclipses? How do you get a solar eclipse?” Experts were asked to teach about the eclipse at COSI during the time the eclipse will take part. COSI will also hold eclipse watch parties at different branches of the Columbus Metropolitan Library and Metro parks, Dr. Panero will be at the Hillard Library
Watching a partial eclipse without eye protection can be dangerous. As the sky becomes darker the eye has to adjust to the lack of light, so the pupil dilates to allow more light in to be able to focus on surroundings. When the sun suddenly reappears in the eye’s line of vision the eye isn’t quick enough to reduce dilation and instead of filtering the light, the eye is exposed to all of the sun’s harmful UV rays. Luckily, glasses made specifically for the eclipse are available at free purchase across 7,000 public libraries in the US, including the Upper Arlington Public Library.
For the next upcoming total solar eclipse no travel is necessary for Columbus citizens. “In 2024 there will be one that will go through Ohio, a total eclipse. In seven more years I won’t have to go anywhere it will be here, there’s a total eclipse in Ohio,” Panero mentioned. Total solar eclipse are easy to predict, scientists can take the moon’s orbit and the location of the sun to produce a concise estimate for where the next total solar eclipse will be. If a pair of solar eclipse glasses aren’t available, Dr. Panero has a trick to safely view the eclipse.“Punch a hole in a piece of paper and look at its shadow, look at the light that comes through. And it will have a big ol bite out of it and you will be able to watch that bite progress.”