Locals gearing up for August 21 solar eclipse
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Copperas Cove area residents are anticipating looking to the skies on Monday for the total first solar eclipse to pass over the 48 contiguous United States since 1979 and the first that will cross the entire continent since 1918.
Although Central Texas isn’t in the 70-mile-wide path of totality, approximately two-thirds of the sun will be blocked by the moon at 1:08 p.m. on Monday. The moon will start to make its “slide” in front of the sun at 11:39 a.m. and the eclipse will end at approximately 2:38 p.m.
On the campus of Central Texas College, the Mayborn Science Theater has a program lineup that kicks off at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, with doors opening at 10:30 a.m.
The theater will host a viewing of its newest show “Totality: Explore the Wonder of Eclipses,” which will be followed by live presentations on the eclipse by the theater’s resident astronomers, Jay Huston and Warren Hart, who’ll talk more about eclipses, their effects and have a question/answer session.
At 1 p.m., guests can then view the partial eclipse from several vantage points on campus to include outside the main doors of the Mayborn Science Theater, the campus mall area or the second floor balcony of the venue. Tickets for this event include the cost of eclipse-viewing glasses and are $12 for adults, $10 for children age 12 and under and $7 for Planetarium members.
The theater is also selling eclipse-viewing glasses for $3.
Locally, retailers like Walmart have also been selling eclipse glasses. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has a list of recommended manufacturers for eclipse viewing glasses to include American Paper Optics (Eclipser); APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses); Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film); Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers); DayStar (Solar Glasses); Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses); Halo Solar Eclipse Spectacles; Lunt Solar Systems (SUNsafe SUNglasses); Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses & Viewers); Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades); Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses); Solar Eclipse International/Cangnan County Qiwei Craft Co. (plastic glasses only); Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer & SolarLite); and TSE 17/110th.de (Solar Filter Foil).
There’s also the old-fashioned “pinhole” method that can be used to view the eclipse. The American Astronomical Society offers several different methods to create homemade projectors to view the eclipse, to include pinhole projection, optical projection and a sun funnel at https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/projection.
Even with a partial eclipse, there is still danger of retinal damage if anyone looks directly at the sun as the eclipse takes place. NASA’s website gives advice for photographing the event using a smartphone.
“Unless you have a telephoto lens for your smartphone, you will only be able to take unmagnified images of the eclipse in your sky. These photos can be very exciting because the field-of-view is large enough that you can compose the shot with your friends and local scenery in the shot, at the same time a recognizable, eclipsed sun during totality hangs dramatically in the darkened sky.
You will easily be able to capture with most smartphone cameras the darkened disk of the moon surrounded by a clearly recognizable bright solar corona. Many examples of these kinds of wide-angle shots can be found on the Internet. Of course, if you use the camera’s digital zoom, you will see a pixelized, enlarged image that will not show much actual detail in the corona. To get around this, you need a telephoto lens for your smartphone.”