The eclipse of the sun this Sunday will begin a little after 5PM Pacific time as the moon begins to cover the sun. By about 6:32 PM the moon will cover about 85 percent of the sun, the fullest it will be during this solar eclipse event. Just over an hour later the moon will complete its transition across the sun, bringing the solar eclipse to an end.
While the eclipse of the sun is not truly a full eclipse in scientific terms, for individuals viewing the solar eclipse, just over 90 percent of the diameter will appear covered and will certainly create a dramatic effect. The event marks the first truly good opportunity to view a nearly full solar eclipse for residents of the west coast in decades.
While there are filters designed for use to view a solar eclipse directly, individuals must only do so if the filters are specifically for solar eclipses – most are not. Not protecting eyes properly can result in substantial damage to the eyes.
The best recommended way to view a solar eclipse is through the use of what is called a pinhole projection viewer. Here is how to make and use your own pinhole projection viewer for watching a solar eclipse.
The simplest way to make a pinhole viewer for the eclipse requires a small flat piece of cardboard and a piece of white card stock or paper. Simply make a small hole in the center of the cardboard, about the diameter of a small nail. To view the solar eclipse, or the sun anytime, begin with your back to the sun. Hold the cardboard with the hole so that the sun can shine through the hole. Hold the white paper below the cardboard so that the projection of the sun comes through the cardboard and is visible on the white paper.
You could even allow the projection to appear on the ground for a group to see (or put a larger piece of white paper or other material on the ground for a better image). Practice viewing the sun with the pinhole projector prior to the eclipse to get the hang of it, and even experiment with different hole sizes to find the size that works best. If done correctly, you may even see some sun spots during your practice sessions.