Sunset eclipse a scenic extra
By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Staff Writer
Weather permitting, Hawai'i will see a partial solar eclipse as the sun is setting tomorrow.
The moon will appear to start taking bites out of the sun, when viewed through protective filters, at around 5 p.m. By sunset, at 6:15 pm or so, half of the sun will be obscured by the moon.
"Nobody should look directly at the sun without protective filters," warned Jay M. Pasachoff, an astronomy professor who is head of the International Astronomical Union's Working Group on Eclipses.
Pasachoff and others have come to Hawai'i to view the eclipse, which will also be visible in the United States from western Alaska. In addition, the eclipse will be visible from the Korean Peninsula, Japan, Siberia and other parts of northeastern Asia. Nowhere on Earth will it be total, as the central part of the moon's shadow will miss the Earth.
Pasachoff, whose experience includes viewing 38 solar eclipses, said Nos. 13 and 14 welder's glass, widely available at hardware stores, provides safe protection, as do special solar filters on glass or plastic that are sold for the purpose.
You should also be able to detect the eclipse using a pinhole camera, the professor said. To make one, punch a hole with a pencil in a piece of paper or cardboard. With the sun at your back, as the sun is low on the horizon, look at the projection of the sun on a wall a few feet away, and you will see the crescent shape of the sun.
"Since you are looking away from the sun, this pinhole method is perfectly safe," he said.
The eclipse can be seen wherever the setting sun is visible, including all along Queen's Surf and Waikiki beaches.
"Sometimes clouds or haze reduce the sun's brightness right at sunset to safe levels, but novice observers should never try to look at the sun without suitable protection, and nobody should stare at the unfiltered sun at any time," Pasachoff said.
Reach Timothy Hurley at email@example.com or (808) 244-4880.