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On Monday, April 8, 2024, a Total Solar Eclipse will cross North America, passing from Mexico’s Pacific coast, then traversing a northeast path over the United States, and into Canada. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, fully blocking the sun’s light and casting a shadow on certain regions of the Earth. The rare occurrence when there is an alignment of three celestial objects is also known as a syzygy.

Image: Eclipse Shadows diagram by NASA

Sharing this event with others can be exciting and even a little eerie. Under totality the sky gets as dark as night, the birds stop singing, and the air gets cooler; then it all returns to normal again. Check out this short video that outlines what eclipse viewers can anticipate, and where: Eclipse: What to Expect.

Safety First!

 The most important thing to know about observing an eclipse, whether it is partial or total, is not to stare at the sun without proper protection! There are several safe options for viewing:

  • Use eclipse glasses (not sunglasses)! These are inexpensive and easily ordered online.
  • A pinhole projector
    produces an image through a small hole in an object, onto a surface, allowing you to safely observe the intense light. You can project onto a wall, floor, or other surface. Here’s How to Make a Pinhole Projector. You can even hold up something like a colander to display many tiny images of the eclipse!
  • A solar filter (not just a UV filter), is especially made to safely view the sun in all its intensity for optical instruments like cameras and terrestrial telescopes.

Here in town, Kenmore Camera carries lots of options. You can even order inexpensive ones online for smart phones, but make sure they are properly rated for direct solar viewing. Image: NewsWest 9

Talk like an Astronomer! Even though it will not be in the umbra (path of totality), Kenmore will experience a penumbra (partial shadow) with a magnitude of 31% (fraction of the sun’s diameter covered), resulting in an obscuration of 20% (area of the sun covered by the moon).

This is a limited offer! The event will unfold gradually for over an hour, with the darkest point for Kenmore at 11:29 AM, lasting only a couple of minutes. And heads up — Another total solar eclipse won’t return to North America until 2033 (in Alaska) and 2044 (in Montana and the Dakotas).

To set a good example, here is Kenmore’s own Hank the Heron with his eclipse glasses at-the-ready!

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