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EYES TO THE SKY: Great North American Eclipse, April 8, 2024 (Part Two — Special Edition)

On eclipse day, from 2 to 4 p.m., Great Barrington’s Mason Public Library is hosting amateur astronomer Rick Costello, four telescopes with shielded optics in tow.

On Monday, April 8, at 2:12 p.m., under clear skies, the barely perceptible beginning of The Great North American Solar Eclipse is happening in the environs of Great Barrington. It progresses to a deep partial eclipse, magnitude 94.8 percent at 3:27 p.m. At the start, the sun will be round as usual and safely viewed through certified eye protection.

As demonstrated in the gathering pictured above, specialized glasses or viewing shields are crucial through all phases of the partial eclipse taking place in our locale. Eclipse glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe for viewing the sun. Safe solar viewers are thousands of times darker.

Please go to Part One of this story for an introduction to this extraordinary celestial event and to find creative ways to observe the progress of the eclipse indirectly in the absence of protective eyewear.

Continuing to mid-eclipse, one hour and 15 minutes later, 3:27 p.m., our sun appears as a thin crescent—maximum partial eclipse—before moving out of the moon’s shadow and returning to full sun at 4:37 p.m.On this extraordinary day, find the sun in its usual place high in the sky at 2 p.m. and setting in the west at 7:28 p.m. EDT.

A rough animation of what the 2024 eclipse will look like from Great Barrington. In this view, the top of the frame is always “up,” toward the highest point in the sky. Credit: Eclipse2024.
The circular holes of a colander project crescent shapes onto the ground during the partial phases of a solar eclipse. NASA/Joy Ng.
You can wear eclipse glasses to safely view the sun during the partial eclipse phases of a solar eclipse. Here is NASA engineer Mamta Patel Nagaraja showing the way. NASA/Mamta Patel Nagaraja.

On eclipse day, from 2 to 4 p.m., Great Barrington’s Mason Public Library is hosting amateur astronomer Rick Costello, four telescopes with shielded optics in tow. Open to all ages, free of charge, the library has a limited number of eclipse-viewing glasses. Bring your own or be prepared to share. Contact the library in the event of inclement weather.

Might not be possible in partial eclipse locations. During the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, the sky will darken enough that you should be able to see Venus and Jupiter. Comet Pons-Brooks will be close to Jupiter. Image via Stellarium/Kelly Kizer Whitt.

For those at the Mason Public Library with awesome Rick Costello: Ask Rick if the planets are visible with the aid of a telescope.

For anyone anywhere in the world who wishes to experience the eclipse virtually, a livestream is available courtesy of Earthsky.org and TimeandDate.

I am looking forward to hearing all about your eclipse experience!

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