Solar Eclipse Preview: Watch Party, Safety Tips, and More!

Whether or not you have seen an eclipse depends upon your birthdate and where you’ve lived on this planet. The last time the US experienced a total eclipse event was September 10, 1923. And while we won’t see the total eclipse in Fort Wayne, it’ll be close.

Do you need a place to watch the solar eclipse on August 21st? Do you know safe ways to view the event? The Department of Physics is hosting a solar eclipse watch party from 1–4pm on the lawn between Kettler and Neff Halls at IPFW! You can use their high-tech solar telescopes, which are typically used to view sunspots but will allow attendees to get a closer look of the eclipse. They’re also going to have FREE viewing glasses (while supplies last), explain observations, answer questions, and even provide materials for people to build their own pinhole observation devices! Check out the flier.

Can’t make it to campus? No problem! Event coordinator Timothy Grove (interim chair and associate professor, physics) gave us eclipse tips to make your viewing experience enjoyable from any location!

Safety Tips:

  • Protect your eyes! During a partial eclipse—which is what we will hopefully see in Fort Wayne—you NEVER want to look directly at the sun with the naked eye. The light may seem dim enough to painlessly look at the event, but it’s NOT EVER safe and you can permanently damage your eyes.
  • Sunglasses (even really dark ones) won’t shield your eyes from the sun’s rays.
  • You should also never directly view the sun with a telescope made for viewing stars, since these devices don’t have a sun filter.
  • You can take pictures of the eclipse with your phone, but check out this website for more info on how to do it safely.

You can buy special solar viewing glasses from Science Central, Eclipse Glasses, Amazon. For more safety tips, check out NASA’s website.

Fun Tips:

  • A low budget way of exploring an eclipse is to use a sheet of cardboard with a small hole in it (such as from a pin).  The light that passes through the hole and onto a flat surface below it will show the shape of the sun during an eclipse.  Without an eclipse you would just see a round spot.  During a partial eclipse, you can see a round spot with a disk like feature cut out of it.
  • Check out shadows on the ground beneath a leafy tree, and you could see little eclipse shapes projected by the small spaces between the leaves!

Next Monday’s weather forecast calls for partial cloud cover, so clouds could obscure our view. But Grove says not to worry, even if this year’s eclipse is covered by the clouds, “in a little less than seven years, we are going to have an even better eclipse!” So if we don’t see you on campus on Monday, we hope to see you in April 2024!

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