Total eclipse of the heartland

By Craig Linde

There will be a total eclipse of the sun on August 21—however it will only be visible from inside of a narrow path that travels across the center of the United States. Outside of this very small band of totality, the majority of the country will see a partial solar eclipse. Residents of the Upper Peninsula will experience a partial eclipse that, at its maximum, covers almost 75 percent of the sun’s surface. As viewed from Marquette County, the eclipse begins at 12:54 p.m. on the afternoon of Monday, August 21, when the moon takes its first nibble at the edge of the sun. The moon will slowly move across the face of the sun, increasing its coverage until it reaches the maximum point of partial eclipse at 2:15 p.m. It will then take another hour and 19 minutes of decreasing coverage before the moon is clear of the sun. Unfortunately, the U.P. is pretty far from the path of totality, but it is well placed to get a good view of the partial eclipse. The sun will be very high in the due south around the time of maximum coverage, which is ideal for observing this event. Since the surface of the sun will at no time be totally covered, safety measures must always be used.

Never look directly at the sun. Commercial solar filters that block over 99 percent of the sun’s light are one safe method. Safety glasses specifically designed for viewing the eclipse can also be worn. Other safe techniques are projection devices using simple cardboard boxes or small telescopes when set up properly.

The Marquette Astronomical Society will host a program about viewing this partial eclipse at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 9 at the Peter White Public Library. Along with demonstrations on how to safely view the eclipse, the club will distribute free solar eclipse glasses.

Visit, enter a city into the field provided and specific times and coverage data will be displayed. Some of the U.P. cities available are Marquette, Escanaba, Baraga and Munising.

General eclipse information can be found on the following websites. Search for specific topics such as safe eclipse viewing by telescope or pinhole projection. 

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