Tulsans will see about 90 percent of the solar eclipse

The middle part of America will witness an eclipse of the sun on August and Tulsa will be not too far from the direct path.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon completely covers the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen. The path of this eclipse on August 21 will stretch from Salem, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina.

Observers outside this path – including Tulsa – will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.

The eclipse hits North America at 11:39 a.m. and will strike Tulsa at 1:08 p.m. with coverage of about 89 percent.

In Tulsa, there will be a viewing of the eclipse at 11 a.m. August 21 at the Turkey Mountain Wilderness Area, 6850 S. Elwood Ave. and a watch party at 11 a.m. at the Tulsa Children’s Museum, 560 N. Maybelle Ave.

North America will experience a partial eclipse lasting 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through the event, anyone within a roughly 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds, turning day into night and making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona. Bright stars and planets will become visible as well.

Solar eclipses occur regularly but they only affect one half of 1 percent of the Earth’s surface. It takes about an hour for the moon to completely cover the sun. Temperatures drop as the moon’s shadow appears. Animals go quiet and the stars become visible during daylight hours.  And then everything suddenly is back to normal.

NASA scientists plan to study this unique opportunity. The very dark color of the moon can be used to calibrate X-ray imagers to properly record the “zero signal” state, while the eclipse will block out the disk of the sun letting the light from the mysterious inner corona within 100 kilometers of the solar photosphere shine into various experiments.

According to NASA, eclipse viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers should meet all the following criteria:

  • Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
  • Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
  • Not be used if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses
  • Not use homemade filters or be substituted for with ordinary sunglasses — not even very dark ones — because they are not safe for looking directly at the Sun.

The American Astronomical Society has verified that these five manufacturers are making eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality. That won’t happen in Tulsa.

Here are some other warnings from NASA:

  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter. Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.
  • If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the Moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse.

No matter what recommended technique you use, do not stare continuously at the sun. Take breaks and give your eyes a rest! Do not use sunglasses: they don’t offer your eyes sufficient protection.

The eclipse is such a big event that Missouri state workers in Jefferson City are getting an extra holiday this year on August 21, the day of the solar eclipse. Missouri officials said that with up to 50,000 visitors expected in Jefferson City to see the eclipse from one of the best spots in the nation, state workers in non-essential jobs in the capital city will get the day off.

The full eclipse will be seen in 14 states diagonally from Oregon to South Carolina. Some parts of Missouri will have the longest periods of total darkness. This will be the first solar eclipse visible coast to coast since 1918.

In Nebraska, Gov. Pete Ricketts plans to watch the eclipse from Carhenge in Alliance. Carhenge is a mockup of England’s Stonehenge but the Nebraska version is made from vintage autos.

In Weiser, Idaho, – the top place in that state to witness the total solar eclipse – officials are staging a festival and they expect more than 70,000 visitors. All the hotel rooms are booked and there are not enough portable restrooms in town to handle that size of crowd.

In Casper, Wyoming, the eclipse is expected to draw more than 35,000 visitors. The Casper City Council voted to let bars stay open until 2 a.m. on August 21 – the normal closing would be at 10 p.m. the night before.

Nashville, Tennessee, is the largest U.S. city in the direct path of the eclipse, which will last about two minutes there. Even though Nashville has a lot of hotels, it looks like they all might be booked on the night before the eclipse.