Totality arrives next Monday

Monday, April 1, 2024

The total solar eclipse is on Monday, April 8. We will experience a complete blocking of the Sun by the Moon that afternoon. The eclipse begins at 1:49 p.m. Totality starts about 3:05 p.m. The end of the eclipse will be at 4:22 p.m. Specific times for various Putnam County locations are found in the table below.

For your specific location, please go to: On that page choose select location and use open map to find your viewing spot. Any open area in the county will be an excellent observing spot.

Since the moon will be traveling from the southwest to the northeast, the eclipse starts first southwest of Reelsville. The longest time of totality is in the southeast corner of the county and the shortest in the northwest corner. Everyone will have plenty of time to appreciate having twilight dark skies for more than two minutes.

In one of three stops he’s making across the county to educate local students on the finer points of the upcoming total solar eclipse, DePauw physics and astronomy professor Howard Brooks gets down on the Central Elementary School gym floor recently as he models the moon’s orbit of the Earth with a ping pong ball and his own head. Brooks explains other aspects of the eclipse in the attached column.

As the moon begins to cover the sun, you must be wearing approved eye protection when looking at the sun. The official recommendation requires the eyewear to meet ISO 12312-2. Welding goggles are only safe if they are shade 14!

During totality, the sky will be as dark as it is at twilight. You must remove your eye protection to see anything in the sky. You will be able to see the a few bright stars plus Jupiter and Venus. Saturn and Mars may be visible closer to the horizon. The planets will be lying along a line with Jupiter above and to the left of the eclipsed Sun and the other three down and to the right.

You must be certain to put the glasses back on as totality ends. Any direct sunlight is dangerous. Also do not take pictures of the partially eclipsed Sun with your phone. The eclipse glasses do not protect the cell phone camera from damage.

There are many safe ways to observe the eclipse indirectly by looking at an image of the Sun after it passes through small holes. A colander from the kitchen should work fine.

Or you can simply hold out your flat hands with fingers slightly opened. Cross one hand over the other so that one points away from you and the other points to your right or your left. This creates a waffle pattern of shadows and the small gaps between your fingers will create the pinholes to allow the Sun images to be seen on the ground.

You can also make a literal pinhole in a piece of foil. The foil can be mounted, like a picture, inside a cardboard frame or on the end of box. The sunlight passes through the hole and can fall either on a second piece of cardboard or on the opposite end of the box. If you use a box, you will get a larger image if you have a greater distance between the pinhole and the opposite wall. A distance of three feet should give you an image between one-quarter and one-half inch. Point the pinhole toward the Sun and look away from the Sun to see your image. See:

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