Williams: Locals can expect 96% eclipse
Mark Steven Williams, an amateur astronomer for 40 years from near Elizabeth, has spent the past five years preparing for Monday afternoon’s event that has been billed as the Great American Eclipse.
It’s been 99 years since the last coast-to-coast solar eclipse could be viewed in the United States. The one Monday will begin in Oregon and travel in a southeast direction to South Carolina, with the ‘point of the greatest eclipse’ near Hopkinsville, Ky. The eclipse’s first point of contact is predicted to begin at 11:51 a.m., and the eclipse will last until 2:56 p.m. The total eclipse should occur at about 1:24 p.m. with ‘full totality’ lasting two minutes and 40 seconds.
Williams, of StarGeezer Astronomy, said residents here in Harrison County can expect to see about a 96-percent eclipse.
‘It’s good, but it’s like winning 96 percent of the lottery,’ he said.
In the past week, Williams has spoken at four pre-eclipse programs ‘ one each at Palmyra United Methodist Church, the library’s Elizabeth branch, Corydon Presbyterian Church and Lanesville Elementary School ‘ offered by the Harrison County Public Library, as well as at other venues. He’s offered information about the history of eclipses as well as the science and folklore and how to safety view both partial and total solar eclipses.
Only those glasses with the International Organization for Standardization logo and a label with ISO 12312-2 should be used. However, to ensure your glasses meet the safety requirements, check the American Astronomical Society’s Eclipse Task Force website (eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters) for reputable vendors as some manufacturers began adding the ISO label even though their product didn’t meet safety requirements.
‘You can get permanent damage even if you look at the sun for less than a second,’ Williams said.
Many locations offering the glasses have sold out.
The library distributed hundreds of pairs of certified solar viewers at no charge, and Williams sold additional pairs for those who needed more.
Alisa Burch, the library’s youth services manager, cautioned everyone not to touch the ‘lenses’ of the glasses. Rather, store them in a plastic bag until viewing time. Be sure the lenses have no scratches or nicks that could let harmful rays pass through them.
The event is expected to be viewed by millions of people, and since Southern Indiana is so near the totality site, the Indiana Dept. of Transportation is urging motorists to plan for traffic congestion before and after the eclipse on Monday.
Indiana State Police public information officers warn motorists not to stop on the shoulders of interstates or highways to view the eclipse. Instead, they suggest you find a parking lot from which to safely view the phenomenon.
Williams said eclipses could be predicted as far back as 2500 B.C.
There are two types of eclipses, lunar and solar, and there can be up to seven a year. However, eclipses don’t occur each month because of the varying degrees the moon is tilted.
‘What you want to watch for (Monday) last minute before totality is … Venus, Jupiter and bright stars popping out, then shadow bands will appear,’ Williams said.
Next, viewers will see the corona as the moon completely covers the sun. As totality ends, Bailey’s Beads ‘ the sunlight visible around the edges of the moon ‘ will disappear.
For more information about Monday’s Great American Eclipse, contact Williams on his Facebook page, Stargeezer Astronomy, or visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov. There also are several apps ‘ some free ‘ available.
‘Hopefully, the clouds don’t intervene next week,’ Williams said.