This Is our Village

Friday, July 28, 2017


The Countdown Begins . . .

In the afternoon of Monday, August 21, weather permitting, there will be a partial eclipse of the sun visible throughout the continental United States.

For many people this will be the celestial show of a lifetime. An eclipse of the moon is interesting enough. A partial eclipse of the sun, which we will experience in West Palm Beach, is rare. Rarest of all is a total eclipse of the sun, which will be seen on August 21 by thousands—more likely millions—of people in the U.S. in a 70-mile-wide band stretching diagonally across the country from the Oregon coast to Charleston, South Carolina.

Those in this band will see "totality" for about two minutes—the sun's disk completely black and only able to be seen because of the sun's beautiful corona of spewed-out flaming, colorful  gases around the black disk. This is the prize. Astrophysicists come from around the world to see it. Daytime turns to nighttime for a brief period. Birds and animals take their cue accordingly, some to sleep, some to hunt.

The weather will need to cooperate for us in West Palm to see about three quarters of the sun blocked out at 2:57 in the afternoon, and you will need special dark glasses (not ordinary sunglasses) to see this phenomenon and protect your eyes from severe retina damage, possibly even blindness. Read the article in the August Reporter for further information.

The show for us (the time varies a little for those in other parts of the country) begins about 1:25 p.m. and ends about 4:18 p.m., so you have almost a two-hour spread to see something—if the afternoon storms hold off.

The special dark glasses are a must, not only to protect your eyes, but because without such a light filter, the small amount of light that gets through is so brilliant the sun's disk will still appear nearly whole. Not so with the glasses. You will see the blacked-out part clearly, like a bite out of an apple.

The good news is that the right kind of viewing glasses are available all over and very inexpensive. $15 will buy you four pairs through Amazon. com. Just be sure they are CE and ISO certified with an "IS0 12312-2" or an "ISO 12312-2:2015" marking. These have the proper density lens filter.


  1. I may just watch on the NASA website Despite your good job all a round Lanny, thx

  2. Hi Elaine,
    Good idea. We have so many stormy afternoons, your suggestion may be best way for us to see something of the show. I have a friend who lives in Hopkinsville, KY, considered THE prime spot (always weather permitting) in the US to see the solar eclipse. For him, no long drive, no crowded highways, no lack of accommodations, and no fighting crowds. All he has to do is step outside his front door and look up. And during totality, even the special dark glasses aren't needed. But ONLY then or you risk eye damage. As soon as the sun is not ENTIRELY blocked out, you need eye protection. (That is why I didn't mention this before. Too much of a chance someone here would misread my blog post or Reporter article and think it was okay for us here. NOT SO.) —Lanny


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