Countdown to the Eclipse

partial solar eclipse nasa

Image credit: NASA

There is less than a week until the much-anticipated solar eclipse. While the path of totality will pass through 14 states, Charlottesville will experience a partial eclipse with about 86% of the sun covered. Here’s some information to help you make the most of your eclipse experience.

Eighty-six percent sounds dramatic. But that means 14 percent of the sun will still be visible. The sun is 400,000 times brighter than the full moon. So 14 percent of the sun is almost 60,000 times brighter than the full moon. In other words, the day will not get noticeably dark. The eclipse itself will take place slowly over the course of about 3 hours between 1:15 and 4:01 pm. At no time will it be safe to look directly at the sun without eye protection.

Eclipse glasses
Eclipse glasses are one way to view the eclipse, though care must be taken to use them properly. Use only glasses that you are certain came from a reputable source. High demand for glasses has encouraged widespread counterfeiting.  Parents should be aware that glasses may not be sized for young children and need to ensure that no part of the sun’s rays gets around the sides of the glasses. Children may also get impatient if they have difficulty viewing and may try to remove the glasses to see better. Careful monitoring of children is essential.

The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library does have limited numbers of safe eclipse glasses available for participants in eclipse-related programming. Most will be distributed after the speaker at the Central Eclipse Viewing Party beginning at 1:30 pm on Monday, August 21. Glasses are not being distributed outside of eclipse events. Search for the term eclipse on the JMRL web calendar to find events at a library location near you: https://www.jmrl.org/calendar.html

Pinhole viewers
Instructions for a variety of pinhole viewers and projectors are readily available. You can find ideas on the NASA eclipse website (https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-viewing) or on the Exploratorium’s website (https://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/how-to-view-eclipse).

Live stream video
Both NASA and the Exploratorium will host live stream video of the eclipse.  NASA’s footage will be available at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-live-stream, the Exploratorium’s at https://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse

Apps
And of course, there’s an app for that! Check out the list on NASA’s website to find an app for your device to help enhance your eclipse experience: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/apps

Find out more about this eclipse and solar eclipses in general at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/

Hidden Figures: What to Read While You Wait

If you are on the holds list for Hidden Figures, don’t despair! We have plenty of other great (and available) books to tide you over.

If you are interested in women who advanced our knowledge of and experience with outer space, pick up one of these.

  • Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
  • The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel
  • Rise of the Rocket Girls: Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt
  • Rocket Girl: The Story of Mary Sherman Morgan, America’s First Female Rocket Scientist by Mary Sherman Morgan
  • Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, an Gravity-Breaking Adventures by Karen Bush Gibson

If you want to read stories about innovative women who are trailblazers in other sciences, law, medicine and more, try one of these books.

If you’d like more suggestions, remember you can always ask for us to create a custom list for you by filling out our What Do I Read Next? form.