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Friday, May 24, 2024

ICYMI Don’t Let This Solar Opportunity Eclipse You

2017 solar eclipse projection. (Photo: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

WILLIAMSBURG — The Historic Triangle will witness the Moon’s shadow as it partially blocks the sun during the solar eclipse on Monday, April 8 — the last total solar eclipse that will be visible in the contiguous United States until 2044.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) explains that a total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun. Those who view the eclipse from locations where the moon’s shadow completely covers the sun — known as the path of totality — will experience a total solar eclipse.

NASA predicts a total solar eclipse will “cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. The first location in continental North America that will experience totality is Mexico’s Pacific coast at around 11:07 a.m. PDT” on April 8.

While not in the path of totality, NASA’s Eclipse Explorer predicts 81% coverage in Williamsburg, weather permitting, starting at approximately 2:03 p.m.

View safely

Safety is a major concern for those viewing the eclipse.

Except during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face, it is not safe to look directly at the sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing, according to NASA.

Viewing any part of the sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.

Those wanting to see the eclipse should wear special solar viewing glasses (also known as eclipse glasses) or use a safe handheld solar viewer. Directions for making your own handheld viewer are available via NASA.

City Square. (Photo: Williamsburg Regional Library)

Local viewing watch parties around the region

  • Williamsburg Regional Library is hosting a Bring-Your-Own-Picnic party, from noon to 2:30 p.m.
  • Virginia Living Museum invites guests to gather on the Conservation Lawn and learn from its education staff how eclipses work from 2-4:30 p.m.
  • York River State Park invites visitors to safely view the eclipse event and visit its interactive displays from noon to 3 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and arrive early, as parking and viewing areas may fill up quickly. To ensure guests can view the eclipse safely, parks will have a limited number of solar viewing glasses available for purchase.
  • Robert Weathers, Colonial Williamsburg historian, will be on site with two telescopes interpreting the 18th-century view of eclipses. One telescope will be set to project the image onto paper while the other will be set up with a solar filter for direct viewing.

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