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How and where to view the partial solar eclipse safely

A photo of a partial solar eclipse in 2019
Aditya Chache
NASA recommends wearing solar viewing glasses to observe the eclipse.

The partial solar eclipse on Saturday may not be a total eclipse, but viewers should still take important safety measures if they want to observe the event.

The eclipse will be visible in Columbia from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The maximum eclipse will occur from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., according to the Columbia Public Schools Planetarium.

However, the eclipse may be hard to view during the day due to the weather, according to Beth Finello, a morning meteorologist at KOMU.

“During the day, unfortunately, it looks like it will be mostly cloudy to overcast skies,” said Finello. “We could get a few breaks in the clouds to where we could partially see some of it, but not a clear view.”

This year’s solar eclipse is an annular eclipse, according to The Planetary Society, a nonprofit space organization. This means the moon will not fully obscure the sun, creating a “ring of fire” halo effect.

Viewing a partial solar eclipse is generally considered more dangerous than viewing a total eclipse because there is no moment the moon completely covers the sun. Looking directly at a partial eclipse, just like looking at the sun on a typical day, will cause damage to the retinas when viewed with the naked eye.

There are several ways to watch the eclipse that will not cause harm and are easy to achieve at home. Some methods involve directly looking at the eclipse, while others use devices to indirectly observe it.

Eclipse viewing glasses

During total eclipses, NASA says viewers can look at the sun directly without a special eyewear only when the moon completely covers the sun. However, during partial eclipses, special eclipse glasses are always necessary to avoid eye damages.

NASA encourages solar viewing glasses that meet the international standard. These eclipse glasses are thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses. No matter how dark regular sunglasses may look, they cannot block out intense ultraviolet, infrared and visible light rays.

Additionally, NASA warns to never look at the sun through “a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while wearing eclipse glasses or using a handheld solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury.”

EclipseGlasses.com has a variety of fun designs and styles of glasses to choose from. Paper glasses come in bulk and may work for eclipse viewing parties, but for anyone who wants to view the phenomenon solo, plastic glasses may be a more affordable option — one pair sells for $19.99.

Best Buy on 2001 W Worley St. sells a Celestron EclipSmart 3-Piece Solar Eclipse Observing and Imaging Kit for $29.99, which includes plastic eclipse glasses, a photo filter and a 32-page informational booklet.

Lowe’s on 201 Conley Road is selling individual pairs of eclipse glasses for $2.48 at the registers.

Both Westlake Ace Hardware locations in Columbia are selling individual pairs of eclipse glasses for $2.99. Both locations are also selling a kit that includes two pairs of glasses and an informational booklet for $9.99. The stores are located at 1900 Business Loop and 1910 W Worley St.

Target is not selling glasses in stores, but a 10-pack of glasses for $16.99 is available for purchase online.

Walmart has a variety of eclipse glasses options, including a 10-pack for $19.89.

FedEx, which ships the glasses, advises customers to order by Wednesday to ensure the glasses arrive on time.

Be sure to choose glasses that have a protective film specifically for the sun rather than regular safety glasses or sunglasses.

Cardboard pinhole projector

Those unable to secure a pair of glasses in time can create eclipse viewers of their own. Using a cereal box, paper and some tin foil, one can project an image of the eclipse without directly looking at it.

Under Lucky Stars has an online page detailing how to make one of these eclipse projectors.

Empty a cereal box.

Trace the shape of the box on a piece of white paper and cut it out.

Stick the piece of paper to the bottom of the box.

Cut a hole on each side of the box and close the top.

Tape tin foil over one of the holes and poke a hole in it.

An image of the eclipse can then be viewed on the white paper.

Viewing parties

There are two eclipse viewing parties planned in Columbia on Saturday.

MU is hosting a viewing party from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Lowry Mall. Telescopes will be on site, and safety glasses will be provided to all attendees.

Columbia Public Schools will host a viewing party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at its planetarium at Rock Bridge High School. The planetarium will also show four screenings of its “Chronicles of a Journey to Earth” program for free, but a $5 donation fee is recommended. Along with the shows, crafts and activities for children are open all day.

NASA is hosting an online livestream of the eclipse as well.

Missourian reporters Savvy Sleevar, Paige Gerling, Lydia Williams, Seth Hadlow and Mary Ruth Taylor contributed to this story.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.
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