Some Aspen Science Center tips for Monday Sun-day | AspenTimes.com

Some Aspen Science Center tips for Monday Sun-day

As most people are aware by now, there will be a total solar eclipse traversing the United States on Monday. In Aspen, the eclipse will be partial, with the sun being 92 percent occluded at the peak. The eclipse begins in Aspen at 10:20 a.m., peaks at 11:43 a.m., and ends at about 1 p.m. This will be the first time in 99 years that a total eclipse has traversed the U.S. from coast to coast.

Aspen Science Center and Pitkin County Library have teamed up to host an event at the library and Galena Plaza. The event is free and runs from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free, fully certified solar viewing glasses will be available to the first 400 people. We will have other activities as well, including solar telescopes, pinhole and box viewers, sun print making, a live TV feed of the eclipse from NASA as it moves across the county, information on the eclipse, sun and moon, and more activities. Whether it is cloudy or sunny, there will be fun things to do, and at least a good view of the eclipse from NASA!

If you can't make it to the event, be sure to get outside and observe the eclipse. If you don't have solar glasses, there are links on our website, AspenScienceCenter.org, to make pinhole viewers so that you can easily and safely observe the eclipse. It is very important that you never look directly at the naked sun (unless it is during the peak of a total (not partial) eclipse. We do not have any more solar glasses to provide to people who are not coming to the event.

We have been getting calls about eclipse viewing safety. First, never look at the sun without proper solar glasses, a solar viewer, or other protection — beware of fakes. The only time it is safe to look at the naked sun is during the totality phase of an eclipse — never during a partial eclipse, as we will have in Aspen.

It also is important that you never look at the sun through binoculars or a telescope or other magnifying device even if you are wearing solar glasses. The binoculars will focus the sunlight onto the glasses and they are not designed for that. The only time it is safe to look through a magnifying device to look at the sun is if it has a proper solar filter installed on the far end of the device — not the end next to your eyes. Remember what happens when you use a magnifying glass to concentrate the sun and start a fire? That same outcome will happen to your solar glasses — and your eyes. Your eyes do not have pain sensors, so you may not realize the damage until it is too late. Even if your view looks dark, you may not be blocking the full spectrum of light including the very harmful UV rays.

We will have safe, certified eclipse glasses (from Rainbow Symphony — we ordered them six months ago), solar telescopes and other viewers for your viewing enjoyment at the event, in addition to great activities, information and a live feed from NASA showing the eclipse as it wends its way across the United States.

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Here's to clear skies!

David Houggy

President, Aspen Science Center