Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Know before you go: Viewing the solar eclipse in Boston

The diamond-ring effect is observed from onboard a NASA Gulfstream III aircraft flying over the Oregon coast during the total solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (Photo courtesy of NASA/Carla Thomas under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED)

On Monday, April 8, the moon will align between the sun and the Earth, causing a total solar eclipse. In New England, parts of Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire will be along the path of totality, meaning they will experience the eclipse in full. For those unable to take the road trip, Boston will still see about 90 percent of the eclipse. Those planning to watch the eclipse from the city may want to know about the following information and opportunities.

According to CBS Boston, the eclipse will last from 2:16 to 4:39 p.m. in the city, and the maximum, or when the greatest amount of the sun will be covered, will be at 3:29 p.m. 

Even during the time of the eclipse, people need to avoid staring at the sun with the naked eye. Viewers should obtain eclipse glasses to look at the sky directly and to protect their eyes. As Boston is not along the path of totality, people watching from the city will need to keep their glasses on throughout the entirety of the event.

Scientist and Science Engagement Lead at NASA’s Space Telescope Science Institute Dr. Alexandra Lockwood described a test people can perform to ensure their glasses are authentic.

“If you turn on your flashlight on your phone and turn it up to bright, take the glasses, and hold the flashlight light right in front of the glasses, you should just barely be able to see a dot,” said Lockwood. “That means that they’re filtering lots and lots and lots of light, and it’s safe to gaze at the sun.”

Dr. Ursula Rick, program executive of NASA’s Heliophysics division, also shared a way for people to check their eye protection. 

“If you were to look at anything else with them besides the sun, it should be totally black,” said Rick. “If you’re not looking at the sun and you have them on and you’re looking elsewhere and you see light through them, then you know it’s not safe to look at the sun. ”

However, these methods are not foolproof.

“Obviously, if you look at the sun with the glasses on and it hurts, stop,” said Lockwood. 

Lockwood also shared a suggestion for those who do not have glasses but still wish to experience the eclipse.

“If you just have a colander in your kitchen to make spaghetti, you can take it outside, and the little holes in the colander will act as pinhole projectors of the sun, and they will project images of the sun onto the ground,” said Lockwood.

One can also create their own projector to watch the eclipse through by poking holes in a piece of cardboard or paper. 

Once the proper safety equipment has been procured, viewers can decide where they wish to view the eclipse from. 

“If it’s cloudy, you’re not going to see that much. You want to get to where there’s no clouds if you can make that happen,” said Lockwood.

The city also has many different group opportunities to watch the eclipse. 

The path of the 2024 total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. (Image courtesy of NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio)

Free events scheduled to take place include a gathering in Larz Anderson Park in Brookline, the “Total Eclipse of the Park” celebration with live music in Cambridge, and a viewing party hosted by the Chelsea Public Library

Those willing to spend money can also purchase a ticket to the “[Not Quite] Total Eclipse of the Park” ferry trip to Spectacle Island and see the eclipse from the Boston Harbor or head up to the roof of View Boston for an aerial view. 

Anyone looking to learn more about the eclipse could also consider visiting a local museum. The MIT Museum will hold an event where attendees can speak with an astronomer, procure glasses, and watch the eclipse. While they cannot host a watch party due to location, the Boston Museum of Science also has several educational resources, including an eclipse planetarium show. 

Even those unable to get outside can still watch the eclipse virtually. From 1 to 4 p.m. EDT, NASA will broadcast the event from locations along the path of totality that anyone can watch online

For more information about the science of the eclipse, both Lockwood and Rick advised going to the NASA website

“I think a lot of us are drawn to our natural world and nature and experiencing it,” said Rick. “I’m happy that folks are interested and I hope that it’s clear skies and people get to experience the wonder of the eclipse.”

The current forecast for Monday shows sunny skies which will be ideal for viewing.

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