Sky's Up July-September 2017 - Page 38

Make a fantastic lifelong memory It’s not too late to plan for the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse By STEPHEN RAMSDEN Guest Contributor As director and founder of the world’s largest volume solar astronomy outreach program — The Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project, I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me and told me about the time they saw a solar eclipse as a young person and how much it impacted their life. News flash: Your time to change someone’s life is fast approaching. Get out there and plan for your community eclipse event! On August 21st, the elongated shadow cast by our planets only satellite, the Moon, will race coast to coast across the United States presenting what will surely be the most viewed celestial The Charlie Bates event in the history of mankind. This Solar Astronomy event is totally free and can be viewed Project has affiliates by every person in the country with in 27 countries. minimal preparation and planning. In They provide direct, fact, the less equipment you take with totally free, hands you, the more enjoyable the event will on instruction to be for the most part. a quarter million Sure, there will be people with all students per year at sorts of telescope and camera gear set free events around the world. Stephen up in thousands of various ways to Ramsden has catch every fleeting moment from every been the sponsor angle but believe me, the absolute best of and inspiration view will be from your eyes watching for such big name the sky during totality. Don’t get groups as Timmy carried away and bogged down with a Teescope in New bunch of gadgets, enjoy this mystical Mexico, Astronomy display of orbital mechanics with a Outreach of Kosovo- friend or a group of people somewhere AOK, and Pakistani you feel comfortable. The memories Umair Asi’s L.A.S.T. in LaHore. For created during this event will last a more information, lifetime, and you will be totally blown visit www. away as the Moon slowly glides across solarastronomy.org. the Sun. When totality occurs you will have up to a little more than 2 minutes to feast your senses during this natural spectacle from the darkening of the sky, the increase in wind speed and accompanying temperature drop, the background stars becoming visible, to the unusual reaction by animals and birds around you. Everyone will fall silent as their brains try to comprehend the majesty of what’s going on above 38 COURTESY OF Jon Baker/Explore Scientific The narrow path of totality for the Aug. 21st total solar eclipse passes through 14 states and stretches from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast. Plan now to get to the path! them. You may get a chance to see Baily’s Beads just before totality and then witness the massive solar corona propelling the solar wind into space. There may even be a chance to glimpse a large solar prominence in the Sun’s chromosphere if everything works out well. Observing the solar eclipse is very easy to do. Don’t be frightened by the nutty stories you will hear from those unfamiliar with solar astronomy. You will need to acquire some proper solar eclipse glasses as protection MUST be used at all times outside of totality. Even if 1 percent of the Sun is visible, it will harm your eyes to look at it directly. The eclipse shades will completely protect your eyes as long as you wear them. Next, I would recommend taking with you whatever camera you are comfortable using from a cell phone to a high end DSLR. The eclipse is no time to try to figure out how to work any new gear. Selfies are good! Take lots of selfies with your friends and the eclipsed Sun in the background to better remember the adventure. Set your DSLR up with proper filtration and take as many images/movies as you can but don’t forget to spend at least a full minute just looking up at our nearest star to enjoy the event the way humans have for hundreds of thousands of years. Please remember to share this event with as many people as you can. Maybe you will be the spark that ignites a young person to get into science and better our world. Sky ’ s Up