Ask an Astronomer: Q&A About Upcoming Eclipse

Get answers about the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21!

Adam Thanz, planetarium director at Bays Mountain Park, has the answers to all of your eclipse questions!

  1. What is an eclipse and what happens during an eclipse?

The moon will travel on its normal orbital path about the Earth as it always does but it will slip into a very narrow corridor in which it will perfectly align, and go between, the Earth and sun. The result, a total solar eclipse. If you are able to place yourself within that narrow path, then you can experience up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality. The sun will be fully blocked by the moon allowing the much fainter corona of the sun to be seen along with the sky darkening to a deep, magical twilight and brighter stars and planets revealing themselves. The temperature will drop, and the wind will pick up. It will be an alignment of celestial proportions.

  1. How do I safely view an eclipse?

A priority of any eclipse is safety. It’s not the eclipse that is dangerous, it’s looking at the sun. There are two main ways to see the eclipse safely. One is by using solar glasses that are designed to cut the sun’s brightness by 100,000 times. Solar eclipse glasses are available for purchase online.

The other safe method is to project the image of the sun. You can use a pinhole to project inside a box, or use a kitchen colander to do the same thing.

  1. Where can I view the eclipse?

Everyone in the US, along with most of the Western Hemisphere, will be able to see at least a partial eclipse. Anyone within the Tri-Cities will see about 96% of the sun blocked by the moon. The partial eclipse will look the same.

If you want to view the total solar eclipse, then you will need to travel to the path of totality. The best resource is an interactive map – you can find them online.

‘Totality,’ a nationally showing, locally produced planetarium show, is currently showing at Bays Mountain. For more information on the show and the eclipse, please call 423-229-9447, visit www.baysmountain.com or check out the Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium Facebook page!

Eclipse Poster