How to see the solar eclipse

On August 21, 2017, between 9 am PST and 3 pm EST (check your timing here) everyone in North America will be able to see a partial solar eclipse! People in 12 states will be in the path of totality and will have the chance to see a total solar eclipse and observe the Sun’s corona! (If you couldn’t already tell, we are pretty excited!!)

Photo by Xochitl Garcia.

[For more information on eclipses, you can take a look at our picture guide.]

The 2017 solar eclipse is approaching – but what if you don’t have eclipse glasses? No worries, you can appreciate this solar phenomenon using some simple projection devices you can make at home.

Projection devices work by focusing the sun’s light onto another surface so that you can safely view the sun indirectly. During a partial solar eclipse, projections of the sun’s rays will appear in a crescent shape that changes with the position of the moon! Pinhole projectors are very cool, very old devices that date back thousands of years.

 Where to view the partial solar eclipse on the River Campus:

 Hajim Science and Engineering Quad, 1:00-4:00 pm

 Meliora Plaza, 1:00-3:30 pm

  • Tickets to view the eclipse from the Rush Rhees tower  (available to the first 50 University ID holders)
  • Eclipse viewing glasses
  • Information posters, handout, and binder, information about the University’s AstroClub

Rush Rhees Lam Square, 1:00-3:30 pm

  • Live-streaming of NASA coverage, information handout and binder, information about the University’s AstroClub

Carlson Library VISTA Collaboratory, 1:00-3:30 pm

  • Live-streaming of NASA coverage, information handout and binder, information about the University’s AstroClub
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Physics-Optics-Astronomy Library, 1:00-3:30 pm

  • Live-streaming of NASA coverage, information handout and binder, information about the University’s AstroClub

 Some additional places in the Rochester community holding eclipse-viewing events:

  • Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • Many local libraries will be passing out solar glasses. Joe Altieri of the Astronomy Section Rochester Academy of Science (ASRAS) has a number of family-oriented activities scheduled for the day of the eclipse. He will be at Chili, Mendon, and Penfield libraries to talk about the myths surrounding the eclipse as witnessed and experienced by our ancestors, the physics of the eclipse, and safe viewing tips.

Rochester’s Icaroscope

historical photo of Brian O'Brien using a telescope, with Rush Rhees Library in the background

(University photo / Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation)

In the 1940s, researchers at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics developed a telescope to “safely” look at the sun. During World War II, soldiers used this so-called Icaroscope—named after the mythical Icarus who flew too near the sun—to view enemy planes dive bombing in the pilots’ shadows. In the picture seen here from the 1940s, Brian O’Brien, the first director of the institute, uses an Icaroscope to look at the sun.

During this year’s solar eclipse on August 21, Jim Zavislan, an associate professor of optics, and members of the University’s student chapter of SPIE, will have a modern version of this solar telescope set up on the Hajim Science and Engineering Quad for people to view the sun’s atmosphere: “With this telescope, observers can see the solar chromosphere, the layer above the solar photosphere [the visible surface of the sun]. Depending on the solar activity during the eclipse, solar prominences may be visible.”

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Tags: Arts and Sciences, Dan Watson, Department of Physics and Astronomy, featured-post

Category: Science & Technology

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