For the first time in almost 100 years, everyone in the United States can witness a cosmic spectacle.
The moon will position itself directly between the Earth and the sun on Aug. 21, blocking out sunlight and making the daytime sky resemble nighttime for a few minutes.
Solar eclipses happen every 18 months, but since almost 70 percent of the Earth is covered by water, they are usually only visible from somewhere in the middle of the ocean. The moon’s size should make this phenomenon impossible, being 400 times smaller in diameter than the sun, but, because the sun’s distance is 400 times the moon’s distance from Earth, it will be possible for people to witness.
A 70-mile-wide strip of complete sun blockage will cross 14 different states, from Oregon to South Carolina. It is the first total eclipse visible by the southeastern United States in 47 years.
In Oklahoma City, a partial eclipse will be visible beginning at 11:37 a.m. and will reach its peak at 1:05 p.m.
The university’s physics department will host a solar eclipse viewing party 1:05 p.m. Aug. 21 at the southwest corner of the Tom and Brenda McDaniel University Center.
The Oklahoma City Astronomy Club will host a watch party from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Science Museum Oklahoma. Larry Beatty, vice president of the OKCAC, said the club produced a video explaining eclipses and how to view them safely, which can be found here.
David Hall, sociology/music education junior, said he is attending an event that will provide free eclipse glasses and food. He said he is “definitely not going to pass this up.”
Safe eclipse glasses are essential for viewing the eclipse. Exposing one’s eyes to the sun without proper eye protection during a solar eclipse can cause retinal burns, also known as “eclipse blindness,” according to the Prevent Blindness website.
The uncovered light around the sun burns as brightly as normal, but the covering by the moon makes it safer for the human eye to perceive. This level of exposure can still heavily damage the retina. It can take from a few hours to a few days before the level of damage that has occurred is realized, according to Prevent Blindness.
NASA warns that homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses are not safe for looking at the sun during the eclipse. Viewing glasses must be compliant with the a certain safety standard. Reputable glasses will have an ISO stamp, signifying authenticity.
NASA warns that looking at the eclipse unprotected for even a few moments can result in permanent eye damage. Safe eclipse glasses can be found online or at Wal-mart.
Eyeglass company Warby Parker gave out eclipse glasses for free, but they’re out of stock now. Their website offers a downloadable template to create a pinhole projector.
Former student Apryl Awbrey said she remembers seeing an eclipse when she was a child.
“I grew up in rural Oklahoma, so it was especially beautiful in a clear sky,” Awbrey said. “They’re an amazing sight to see.”
Both Awbrey and Beatrize Martinez, second-year law, said they were unaware of the upcoming eclipse, though both now plan to watch it. Martinez said she looks forward to seeing it.
“The things that occur in nature are exciting. I just hope I’m not so focused in my studies that I forget,” she said.