By Nancy Leighton
The moon is moving into position for a solar eclipse on August 21. A solar eclipse takes place when the moon’s path goes between the earth and the sun so that it blocks the sun’s light from reaching the earth.
In northeast Georgia the moon will completely hide the sun for several minutes in mid-afternoon. In southeast Atlanta the moon will block out a maximum of 97% of the sun’s light during the eclipse. At 1:05 pm the moon will be in position to start covering the sun. It won’t be noticeable at first. Within 45 minutes the sky will have less light. It may look like clouds have gone over the sun. Things in the landscape will take on an unusual appearance during the eclipse. Shadows of people, buildings, and trees could look like they’re in three dimensions in the reduced light. More and more of the sun will become shadowed by the moon. It will become darker until there is a small eyelash of sunlight and then it will go down to a small 3% point of sunlight at 2:36 pm. The light in the sky will be like early morning before sunrise. At some point the streetlights may come on, and drivers may find it necessary to turn on their headlights. This will last for three minutes. After that, a sliver of sun will appear again. Then more and more sun, until just in time for rush hour, at 4:01 pm, the moon will be completely past the sun. If the sky is cloudy or rainy on August 21 it will be even darker during the eclipse.
Don’t look directly at the sun during the eclipse or anytime. The sun’s rays can damage the eyes like a laser. Don’t use ordinary sunglasses to look at the eclipse. Special darkened glasses are necessary to protect your eyes. Some organizations will be donating the glasses or they will be available from various merchants.
The eclipse will give all of us a chance to observe the power and forces of our solar system.