Portsmouth in the path of the Eclipse


By Ciara Conley

Folks in Portsmouth should consider themselves in luck, with the upcoming solar eclipse on Aug. 21, Portsmouth is expected to see approximately 91 percent of the sun covered.

“This is the first total eclipse of the sun visible from the contiguous 48 states since 1979. Since then, the only solar eclipses we’ve been able to see in the lower 48 have been “partial” eclipses, where the moon partially covers the sun,” said Shawnee State University’s Dr. Tim Hamilton.

Hamilton will be hosting a series of events at the Shawnee State University (SSU) Clyde W. Clark Planetarium, located with the Advanced Technology Center (ATC), located on the campus at 940 2nd Street in Portsmouth.

The first event will be an informational lecture on Aug. 14 from 7-8 p.m. at the Planetarium about the eclipse and what those in Portsmouth can expect to see. Hamilton will also be showing pictures of eclipses and providing the public with viewing safety tips and glasses as well as photography tips.

The event is free and open to the public, reservations are not required but it should be noted that the Planetarium has a maximum occupancy of 66.

On the day of the eclipse, the Planetarium will be hosting an outdoors viewing party from 2-3 p.m. as well as an indoor live-feed of the total sun coverage provided by NASA.

““On the day of the eclipse itself, I will be leading an expedition of physics students from Shawnee State into the Smoky Mountains to view the eclipse and collect data on both the sun’s corona and the shadow’s effects on the weather. I will be taking timelapse photos of the entire eclipse, essentially a movie of the event played back at high speed. I’ll be speaking on the results of the expedition later this semester at SSU, and I’ll making a public announcement of that event once I decide on a date,” said Hamilton.

Since Portsmouth is not in the path of total sun-coverage, Hamilton warns that those wishing to view the eclipse take precaution as to not damage their eyes.

“Viewing the partial eclipse is dangerous to the eyes, because even a sliver of the sun’s face puts out ultraviolet light which will damage the retina. Only totality is safe to observe directly,” Hamilton explained.

According to the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.

Unfortunately, with the popularity of this event, there are fraudulent solar glasses on the market. Effective and safe glasses should be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products. This number is typically printed on the side of the glasses. If your glasses are not ISO 12312-2 standard, they are not safe to use.

““If you’ve already bought some and you want to make sure they’re safe to use, put them on and look at a bright light, if you can see anything other than the light itself, they’re not safe,” explained Hamilton. “If you can’t get a hold of a pair, there are other things you can do. You can pinhole in a piece of paper and then hold another piece of paper some distance away from it, it won’t just make a circle on the paper, it’ll be the shape of the sun and you can watch the progress of the eclipse. The Planetarium will also be handing out pairs at our events.”

If you have any questions about the events hosted at the Planetarium, please contact the Planetarium at 740-351-3147 or via email at ssu.clark.planetarium@gmail.com.