Not in the 2017 Solar Eclipse’s Path? An Astrophysicist Has Some Advice

To look directly at the sun, you’ll need specialized solar viewing glasses.

Credit: Paul Deans/TravelQuest International

Paul Sutter is an astrophysicist at The Ohio State University and the chief scientist at COSI Science Center. Sutter leads science-themed tours around the world at Sutter contributed this article to’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Let’s say you’re not lucky enough to find yourself along the narrow strip of totality during the coming solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Don’t feel bad — you still may get a stellar view. Everyone in the continental United States — as well as Canada and Mexico — will get to enjoy seeing a bite taken out of the sun on that afternoon.

Of course, the closer you get to the totality path the better your experience, but a partial solar eclipse is still pretty awesome and something that only comes along every few years. So get out there and enjoy it! [Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely)]

If you live in New England or along the Mexican border, you’ll get the worst view with only about 65 percent of the sun covered by the moon. The closer you get to the northwest-to-southeast line, though, the more spectacular your show will be, with almost all states enjoying at least an 80 percent coverage.

No matter where you are, the entire eclipse event will last about three hours, from the moment the moon first touches the disk of the sun, to its maximum extent an hour and a half in, to the point where the sun and moon separate and continue on their solitary journeys. 

I can’t stress this enough: unless you’re seeing the brief moments of 100 percent coverage, or totality, it is not safe to look directly at the sun without some serious eyewear. Sunglasses are not nearly enough. Even 400 of your…

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