Partial eclipse to dazzle viewers

Want to see one of the better solar eclipses over the past two decades? You’ll get the opportunity next Monday, but, above all, remember to protect your eyes.

On Aug. 21, between 1:02 p.m. and 3:48 p.m., Fulton County residents can witness the moon overshadow the sun by about 80 percent, with peak coverage between approximately 2:27-2:29 p.m. It will be the first solar eclipse seen in northwest Ohio since June 10, 2002, and the greatest seen locally since 1994, when the area had the best seats anywhere.

Alex Mak, associate director of Ritter Planetarium and Brooks Observatory at the University of Toledo, said the eclipse will cut a diagonal path 65 miles wide across the continental U.S., from Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C. Depending on the viewer’s vantage point in the country, that will produce variations from no eclipse to total coverage.

“The closer you are to the center line, the greater the eclipse will be,” Mak said.

He said the moon’s distance from the earth at the time of an eclipse can play a large role in how spectacular the show becomes. The closer the sun and moon appear to be equal in size due to their distance from each other, the better the eclipse.

The best vantage point during this eclipse will be the State of Kentucky, Mak said. Viewers there will witness the longest totality of coverage.

Locally, Swanton Public Library will distribute 1,000 pairs of the eclipse viewing glasses to patrons, sent by NASA and Starnet Libraries, and hold an outside viewing party Monday from 1-3:30 p.m. There will also be a live NASA broadcast streamed inside the library. Party participants can take part in a scavenger hunt and make space-related arts and crafts. Refreshments will be available.

Any plans to view the eclipse must include correct eye protection, said Alaina Robertson, spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control. Looking directly into the sun, even briefly, can permanently damage the retinas. No pain is experienced, but symptoms can occur hours, even days later, including an inability to see colors well and a loss of central vision.

Robertson said the eclipse should be viewed through a special solar filter, in the form of eclipse glasses or a hand-held viewer. She said the items are available at many retail outlets, but must be checked for whether they meet required ISO 12312-2 safety standards. Even if they are, don’t use them if the lenses are scratched or wrinkled or older than three years.

Goggles, homemade filters, and sunglasses – even very dark types – won’t offer adequate eye protection, Robertson said. Neither will a telescope, binoculars, a camera lens, a smartphone or other optical devices.

Mak said a safe way to view the eclipse is through a homemade pinhole projector that projects the image safely onto cardboard. For instructions, visit or Google “Toledo planetarium,” and follow them carefully.

This solar eclipse will be the best northwest Ohio residents have seen in 17 years, Mak said. A Christmas Day eclipse in 2000 hardly registered and was barely noticed, with only 50 percent coverage on a partly cloudy day.

“It wasn’t a very good eclipse. It wasn’t very large,” he said. “It got surprisingly little publicity.”

Another, on June 10, 2002, was also a dud, as eclipses go, he said.

It was in 1994 that a dazzler was produced. It was an angular eclipse, which occurs when the moon is at its farthest distance from the Earth. The result was total coverage of the sun with the exception of its outer edge.

That eclipse was noteworthy because Wauseon was on the center line and in the spot that produced the greatest period of totality.

“Actually, (Wauseon) was in the greatest place on earth for the eclipse,” Mak said.

The next solar eclipse won’t occur until Oct. 14, 2023. But Mak said it will be better to wait for one set to take place six months later, on April 8, 2024.

“Parts of northwest Ohio are going to be right in totality,” he said.

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Emily Sgro, an assistant with the Swanton Public Library, and her friend, Mark Twain, model eclipse glasses being distributed by the library to view the event Aug. 21. Sgro, an assistant with the Swanton Public Library, and her friend, Mark Twain, model eclipse glasses being distributed by the library to view the event Aug. 21.
Keep eyes protected

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.