Delawareans to see partial eclipse today

DOVER — Delaware will be treated to the rare sight of a solar eclipse today — an astronomical event in which the moon passes between the sun and earth and temporarily blocks part or all of its light.

According to University of Delaware astronomy professor Judith Provencal, the moon will start taking a “bit” out of the sun around 1:20 p.m., the sun will shrink to a crescent during the eclipse’s peak around 2:30 p.m. and finally the sun will become a full disc again as the moon clears it around 4 p.m.

According to NASA, the path of the total solar eclipse will run diagonally across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. The most interesting viewing, not seen in the contiguous United States since 1979, will be in the states the total eclipse passes over, but Delawareans will still see a fascinating partial eclipse where 80 percent of the solar disk will be covered.

Delaware saw a similar partial eclipse in 1994 and 2000, but won’t see another until 2024. Delaware’s last sight of a total eclipse was in 1970.

“It’s hard to say when Delaware will see its next total eclipse. I looked all the way to 2100 and only saw partial eclipse predictions,” said Ms. Provencal.

Many “viewing” events are planned statewide, but most Delawareans will probably be at work during the phenomenon. No matter where you catch a glimpse, experts stress not looking at it unless you have the proper eye ware.

Dr. Karen Rudo, a Delaware Eye Clinics ophthalmologist, said sunlight peeking around the disc of the moon during an eclipse can permanently blind or otherwise damage your vision in mere seconds.

“If someone looks at the eclipse and there is still a little sunlight visible, it can basically cause permanent blindness,” she said.

“The sun can actually burn your retina so you never see again. Sometimes it’ll just damage your eyes temporarily or cause blurry vision, but it’s best to never take a chance at all. No one can say how long is too long, just don’t look unless you have appropriate protection.”

Dr. Rudo said it pays to make absolutely sure that viewers get a reputable and guaranteed pair, of glasses because in the past there have been reports of faulty ones.

NASA has a list of reputable vendors available at eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety. Many events around the state will also have limited numbers of eclipse glasses for sale, or to borrow. Some events will have demonstrations where participants build their own eclipse viewers.

“Make sure the ones you get are ISO- and CE-certified,” she said.

ECLIPSE VIEWING EVENTS

Kent County

•The Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation (Eclipse Watching Party)
From to 4:30 p.m. at 585 Big Oak Road in Smyrna
Free, rain or shine event, limited number of viewing glasses available for $1
Children’s activities, eclipse demos, food trucks, limited whiskey release
•First State Heritage Park
Starting at 2 p.m. at 43 The Green in Dover (John Bell House)
Free
Learn about eclipse science, superstition and creating eclipse viewers

Sussex County

•Delaware Seashore State Park
From 1 to 4 p.m. at 39415 Inlet Road in Rehoboth Beach
Free with park admission, viewing glasses available for $2
Park interpreter-led hike and viewing
•Cape Henlopen State Park
Starting at 1 p.m. at 15099 Cape Henlopen Drive in Lewes
Free
Limited number of safe solar glasses can be borrowed.

New Castle County

•University of Delawar

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e Mt. Cuba Observatory
From 1 to 4 p.m. at 1610 Hillside Mill Road in Greenville
Space is limited, call (302) 654-6407 or visit mountcuba.org/ for availability
Solar-filtered telescopes available
•Delaware Museum of Natural History
Peak viewing at 2:43 p.m. at 4840 Kennett Pike in Wilmington
Free with museum admission, rain or shine
Children’s activities stories, NASA’s eclipse live stream, scientist interviews
•Brandywine Park
From 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 1080 N. Park Drive in Wilmington
Free at the 18th Street Playground
Eclipse activities
•Brandywine Creek State Park
Starting at 12:30 p.m. at 41 Adams Dam Road in Wilmington (at the nature center)
Free, call (302) 655-5740 to sign up
Pinhole camera making demonstrations, viewing scopes, local experts
•White Clay Creek State Park
From 1 to 3:30 p.m. at 880 New London Rd. in Newark (Carpenter Recreation Area)
Free
First 200 visitors will receive free viewing glasses.

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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