Since this eclipse will occur near sunset, it will be necessary to find a viewing site with a good perspective of the western horizon--perhaps a high hill or high building.
NEVER look directly at the Sun or a solar eclipse with a telescope or binoculars. This would cause PERMANENT BLINDNESS INSTANTLY!
NEVER look directly at the Sun or a solar eclipse with your unaided eye. This could cause MAJOR EYE DAMAGE and POSSIBLE BLINDNESS! Eye damage can occur rapidly, without any pain, since there are no nerves in the retina of the eyes.
A safe way to view the eclipse is by obtaining a box, larger than your head. Place a small pinhole in one end of the box. Standing with your back to the Sun, allow the sunlight to shine through the pinhole onto the other end of the box(with your head covered by the box and your eyes looking toward the end of the box without the pinhole), where you will see a small image of the solar eclipse.
If you cannot find a box, you can also use two pieces of cardboard. Place a pinhole in one piece of cardboard. Standing with your back to the Sun, allow the light from the eclipse to shine through the pinhole and project onto the second piece of cardboard, where you will see a small image of the solar eclipse.
To see a picture of a solar pinhole viewing box for safely viewing a solar eclipse, and further tips on safely viewing a solar eclipse, go to the following Internet web page: < http://andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/solflyer2.htm >
For further questions about safely viewing a solar eclipse, send an electronic mail message to:
A rarity of nature, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves directly in front of the Sun, blocking all or some sunlight from shining on part of the Earth. This can only happen close to the Moon phase known as "New Moon," when the Moon and the Sun are in the same line of sight, and when the surface of the Moon cannot be seen from Earth.
All sunlight is blocked by the Moon during a total eclipse of the Sun; this only occurs in a narrow band on part of the Earth. Only part of the Sun's light is obscured during a partial solar eclipse.
The December 14 eclipse will not be a total solar eclipse. It will be a partial eclipse of the Sun--but a fairly unique partial solar eclipse known as an annular eclipse of the Sun. In an annular solar eclipse, the Moon is too far away from the Earth(as the actual distance between the Earth and the Moon varies) to completely block-out the Sun's light from any portion of the Earth.
Hence, the narrow path on Earth, that would normally experience a total eclipse of the Sun, instead experiences the obscuration of all of the Sun's light except the light from the outer edge(annulus) of the Sun.
The path of annularity for the December 14 eclipse will primarily occur in the Pacific Ocean, with a small part of this path traversing the Central American nations of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Costa Rica's capital city, San Jose, is the only major urban area within the path of annularity.
Most of North America, including the Pittsburgh region, will experience the more common type of partial eclipse of the Sun. During the maximum eclipse in Pittsburgh, 18.2 percent of the Sun's surface will be covered by the Moon--however, this will occur only two minutes before sunset!
Pennsylvania did experience an annular eclipse of the Sun as recently as May 10,1994. At that time, the path of annularity passed through Erie County.
The following is the time line for this annular eclipse of the Sun:
Friday Afternoon, December 14, 2001
New Moon: 3:47 p.m. EST
Partial Eclipse of Sun Begins in Pittsburgh: 4:12 p.m. EST
Mid-Eclipse -- Maximum Eclipse seen in Pittsburgh(18.2 percent obscuration): 4:54 p.m. EST
Sunset in Pittsburgh: 4:56 p.m. EST
Go to the following Internet web page, to learn the eclipse times, and percentage of Sun's light obscured, in other parts of North America: < http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/OH/LC/LC2001.html#2001Dec14A >
Note to Editors: Permission is hereby granted to publish the drawing of the solar pinhole viewing box, for safely viewing a solar eclipse, at the following URL:
Please credit the author of this drawing, Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of The Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, Pittsburgh.
Glenn A. Walsh
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