Solar Eclipse 2017: When To Watch In Pennsylvania, Best Viewing Tips
Here's how and when to safely watch the Aug. 21 solar eclipse in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania residents will get plenty of exposure to the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21. The big questions are: where and when can you see it? And what steps do you need to take so the light doesn't damage your eyes?
The zone for seeing it stretches across the country. While the prime exposure areas where a total solar eclipse is expected is in the Southeast and Northwest, Pennsylvania will have some prime viewing times. Enough of the eclipse will be visible that NASA scientists are urging potential viewers to take precautionary steps.
A partial eclipse in Philadelphia will begin at about 1:21 p.m., peak at about 2:44 p.m. and end at 4:01 p.m. on Aug. 21. The farther south you go, the more you'll be exposed.
The National Weather Service says Eastern Pennsylvania will likely get what's considered a "partial" solar eclipse, meaning that we'll see 70 to 75 percent of the sun covered by the moon.
You can see NASA’s live stream of the eclipse here. The total eclipse corridor is 70 miles wide.
Carlton “Tad” Pryor, a professor in the department of physics and astronomy at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, says you'll know when the eclipse is here, as long as the weather cooperates, even if it's not a total eclipse.
“A total solar eclipse is always very dramatic,” Pryor said in a statement. “The sky gets dark, animals and birds go quiet as if it’s nighttime and it’s a little bit cooler outside. The partial solar eclipse that will be visible in New Jersey is much more subtle, but will be noticeable if you know what to look for.”
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Tips for Safe Eclipse Viewing
Because it is unsafe to look directly at the sun, anyone wishing to see the phenomenon should protect their eyes with specially-made and certified filters or by observing the eclipse indirectly.
Direct viewing can be done safely with "No. 14 arc welder glass" or with eclipse viewing glasses that meet the following criteria outlined by NASA:
- Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
- Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed on the product
- Not be used if more than three years old or with scratched or wrinkled lenses
Homemade filters or sunglasses – even very dark ones – are never safe for looking directly at the sun, according to Pryor. There are reports of potentially unsafe eclipse glasses appearing for sale, so be sure to buy eclipse viewers from reputable vendors (click here to find them).
Here are a few suggestions for safe, indirect viewing:
- If the sky is clear at around 2:44 p.m. on the day of the eclipse, stand in a leafy tree’s shadow and look at the ground. The smallest spots of sunlight will make little crescent shapes, showing the sun’s apparent shape as the moon crosses in front.
- Another method is to make a small hole in a piece of cardboard with the tip of a pencil or pen and project the light onto a white piece of paper, he said. For a better view, put the hole over a mirror and reflect the light onto a more distant white piece of paper or white surface.
Total eclipses in the Continental United States are unusual, with the last one happening in 1979. Hawaii experienced one in 1991.
“An eclipse is a remarkable phenomenon,” Pryor said. “It was always regarded as signifying something important. Some people thought something was eating the sun and tried to make noise to scare it away. But the ancient Greeks understood what was happening and could start to predict some of these phenomena.”
photo from Rutgers University