2017-08-16 / Front Page

Local skies will darken August 21 with historic eclipse

One of the most anticipated celestial events of recent time happens on Monday, August 21 when the moon passes between the earth and sun, creating a total eclipse visible through a large swath of the United States.

Although this region is not in the path of “totality” – where the entire sun will be obscured, skies will darken that afternoon and there will be an opportunity to experience a wonder of the natural world.

The exact times for this eclipse vary within the region.

Local skywatchers can see evidence of the eclipse as early as 1:15 p.m. and as late as 4 p.m. The midpoint of the eclipse, when the largest portion of the sun will be obscured, is predicted around 2:30 p.m.

Free eclipse glasses will be available to skywatchers at the Morgan County Public Library in Berkeley Springs this Friday, August 18; Saturday, August 19 and Monday, August 21. The glasses were provided by NASA to the Morgan County Observatory, which is distributing them. Glasses are available during regular library hours, while supplies last.

NASA Map NASA Map Cacapon State Park’s Summer Naturalist will host a solar eclipse viewing at the park’s lodge on Monday, August 21 from 2 to 2:45 p.m. Proper eclipse glasses will be available for a safe view of the eclipse or participants can take their own.

Special filters needed

The only safe way to look directly at the partially eclipsed sun is through special purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers.

Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, don’t provide adequate protection, say eclipse experts.

Viewers must be sure the glasses they use are CE and ISO certified for direct sun viewing.

Some people plan to travel to points along the path of the moon’s shadow, which will run from Oregon to South Carolina, to see the total eclipse.

The eclipse won’t just affect the sky.

Coastal areas will experience a higher-than-normal “perigian spring tide,” when the gravitational pull of both the moon and sun are at their strongest due to their alignment with earth, said naturalists.

Also, biologists have noted during a total or partial solar eclipse, fish react to both the falling air temperatures and decrease of light.

Fooled into thinking the sun has set, some species have been observed heading to deeper water. For the duration of the eclipse, nocturnal fish may become more active while daytime fish become less active. Other wildlife might be affected by the eclipse as well.

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