An eclipse is coming; better make your plans for watching it.
Weather permitting, on Tuesday, March 7, western North Americans will be able to see a partial solar eclipse from 10:14 a.m. to 12:07 p.m. On the Wasatch Front the maximum eclipse will occur at 11:10 a.m., when 36 percent of the sun will be obscured.The Hansen Planetarium and the Salt Lake Astronomical Society will hold an eclipse watch, setting up equipment in front of the planetarium at 15 S. State St. The event is free to the public.
Patrick Wiggins, education specialist at the planetarium, reminds us not to look directly at the sun during the eclipse, since permanent eye damage could result. Sunglasses, smoked glass or photographic film won't help either, he says. He suggests, instead, using sun boxes.
To make a sunbox just punch a pinhole in one side of an ordinary box and then hold the box so that the sun's light passes through the pinhole and forms a small image of the sun on the opposite inside wall. "Look at the projected image," says Wiggins. "Don't look through the pinhole at the sun."
School teachers can turn a south-facing room into a sunbox, Wiggins suggests, and then students can observe the eclipse from inside. "Just darken the room as much as possible," he says. "Open one blind a bit and cover the opening with a piece of cardboard in which you have punched a hole. Wherever the light shines through the hole - on the floor or on the wall - students can gather around and watch the reflection of the eclipse."