Guest columnist Morgan Paskert is on staff at the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, which provides each member of the community with the opportunity to develop a lasting connection with the natural world. The Center does so by providing free admission seven days a week to its indoor and outdoor exhibits, offering nature-based educational programming for all ages, operating one of two public access planetariums in Cuyahoga County as well as a wildlife rehabilitation program at no charge to the public.
On Monday, Aug. 21, Americans will witness nature’s most spectacular show — a total eclipse of the sun.
What is a solar eclipse? Well, the moon orbits Earth approximately every 27 days. A solar eclipse is the cosmic coincidence when the moon passes exactly between the Earth and the sun, thereby casting a shadow onto Earth and blocking our view of the sun.
Partial, total and annular eclipses can be viewed every so often depending on one’s geographic location on Earth, but next month will be the first time in 99 years that the United States will experience a coast-to-coast total solar eclipse. The path of the moon’s shadow, or where the eclipse reaches totality, will cover 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina. Unfortunately, the total solar eclipse will not be viewable in Northeast Ohio, but that doesn’t mean we will miss out on this celestial event.
If you are unable to travel to the path of totality, no need to worry. Nearly 80% of the sun’s disk will be covered by the moon in Northeast Ohio which is still an impressive sight to behold. Katy Accetta, Astrophysicist and Planetarium Specialist at Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, is here to share her tips on how to make the most of nature’s greatest sky show, right here in Northeast Ohio.
Plan your lunch break
Luckily, this year’s solar eclipse is happening right in the middle of the day. The moon will enter the solar disk at 1:06 p.m. and leave at 3:51 p.m. Maximum eclipse, or when the majority of the sun is covered by the moon, will be at 2:31 p.m. Plan your lunch break a little later than usual and head to an area that is free from the obstruction of trees and buildings to experience the eclipse.
Protect your eyes
It’s extremely important to protect your eyes during a solar eclipse. To prevent eye damage, order a pair of eclipse viewing glasses or number 14 welder’s glass prior to Aug. 21. Past claims have suggested using Mylar balloons or Pop-Tart wrappers as substitute eye protection during an eclipse, but this is unsafe and not recommended.
It’s best to refrain from photographing the solar eclipse, especially if you are a first time eclipse viewer. Not only is photography experience and advanced equipment necessary, but even then it is rare to capture the perfect photo. Plus, no photo will ever compare to witnessing a solar eclipse with your own eyes.
Save the Date: On April 8, 2024 a total solar eclipse will pass directly over Northeast Ohio.
Want to learn more about this summer’s total solar eclipse? Visit Lake Erie Nature & Science Center, 28728 Wolf Road, Bay Village, for a Solar Eclipse Program, where you will enjoy an engaging planetarium presentation and take home a pair of eclipse viewers to wear on Aug. 21. Solar Eclipse Programs will run on Aug. 12, Aug. 13, Aug. 19 and Aug. 20 at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Register in advance at www.lensc.org.