Eye on the Eclipse: What You’ll See and How to Protect Your Eyes

BOSTON (WHDH) — It’s an event that hasn’t occurred in nearly 100 years. A total solar eclipse across the entire United States.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes completely in front of the sun, blocking the disk of the sun.

Here in the Boston area on Monday, Aug. 21, we won’t be left completely in the dark. We’ll experience a partial eclipse, with about 63% of the sun covered up. The eclipse is expected to reach its peak in our area at about 2:47 p.m. The whole thing will only take a few minutes to play out in our skies.

If you’re hoping to get a good look at it, hope for a sunny day.

“The main thing that’s going to affect your view from Boston is the weather,” says Talia Sepersky, planetarium presenter at Boston’s Museum of Science. “Clouds are an eclipse chaser’s worst enemy.”

Dr. Tamara Ledley, advanced leadership initiative fellow at Harvard University, has traveled the world studying eclipses.

“It really is hard to convey,” Dr. Ledley says of a total eclipse. “I can usually ask people if they’ve seen a total solar eclipse and if there’s any equivocation in a voice, they’ve not seen it. You know when they’ve seen it.”

Ledley is going to Casper, Wyoming so she can be in what’s called the umbra. That’s the circular area 70 miles wide where the sun will be completely blocked out by the moon and people will see a total eclipse. It will cut across the country from Oregon to South Carolina.

“No camera lens, no description can really convey what totality is like,” Dr. Ledley says. “It becomes very emotional. It’s very special.”

The last time there was this much excitement for a solar eclipse in Boston was 1994. The basic safety measures for keeping your eyes protected from the sun haven’t changed.

“If you don’t want to look at the sun, you need the proper eye protection,” says Sepersky.

That means special glasses or binoculars with special lenses affixed to them. Pinhole cameras are another way to see the shadow cast by the eclipse.

The next major solar eclipse will pass through Boston in 2021.

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