The Great American Eclipse

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On Monday, August 21, if you can’t locate your family, friends and co-workers, then look outside. You may find them staring up at the sky at a total solar eclipse, which hasn’t been seen across North America in nearly a century.

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association’s Jay Reynolds describes what’s being billed as the “Great American Eclipse” as “huge.”

“Not only the United States is going to experience this, but also North America. If you live in Canada or Mexico, everyone gets a shot. Everyone will see a portion of this eclipse,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds explained that while lunar eclipses are common, solar eclipses are special.

“The pathway is very, very short, very narrow. Only a few people, like 50 miles across get to see this thing in its entirety. Here in Northeast Ohio, we’re going to get 80 percent of the sun covered up by our moon.”

Those who view the eclipse outdoors will notice a reduction of light, any maybe something else, too.

“We may see a reduction in temperature by a few degrees. Figure it out, you’re covering up the sun by eighty percent, you’re losing your heat source,” Reynolds said.

An eclipse of this width and breadth is rare, with the last one coming 99 years ago.

“We have solar eclipses across the United States in different times, but nothing like this, which makes it the story of the decade.”

An area stretching over fourteen states, from South Carolina to Oregon, will be able to view the full eclipse.

Reynolds said the eclipse will begin at 1:06 pm in Ohio. At 2:26 pm, the sun will be at its most-covered spot. The eclipse will end at 3:51 pm.

The most important thing to remember is that under no circumstances should you look at the eclipse with the naked eye.

“Don’t use things like sunglasses, Mylar balloons and floppy discs, which used to be a favorite because they would reduce the sunlight, but what’s happening is that they are not filtering out the ultraviolet light,” Reynolds said.

There are devices that can be used to view the eclipse ranging from “eclipse” glasses (from reputable companies) and telescopes with proper lenses to household devices like colanders (not the strainer type, but the kind with small holes. Watch the above video to see examples.)

The next solar eclipse of this magnitude takes place in 2024, with Northeast Ohio being in the center line.

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association, in conjunction with the Cleveland Metroparks, hosts a free “Eclipse Watch Party” at Edgewater Park, on August 21 beginning at 12:30 pm.

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