Tuesday, September 22, 2020
US flag

Confirming sunspots, 14 days before US eclipse

We pointed a slightly larger telescope at the sun this morning, having seen what looked like sunspots with our smaller scope, and sure enough, there one was.


The sun, from Gilbert, Ariz., today, 9:10 AM local time (MST), 6" Newtonian reflector, f/9.2

The path of totality, where you have to be if you want to see a total eclipse, is a little more than 70 miles wide and stretches all the way from the Oregon coast to the South Carolina coast. It touches Montana for a few acres of uninhabited land and otherwise goes through most of the states in between.

But the entire country will see at least a partial eclipse. If you haven’t got your eclipse glasses yet, you can make an inexpensive eclipse viewer out of common household materials. For a nice classroom project, NASA even has a site that will allow you to print out a pinhole viewer in the shape of your state using either a 2D or 3D printer.

Whatever you do, never look directly at the sun except during totality. Ever. Not even for a split second. And don’t point your digital cameras at it, because the sensors in those devices are about as sensitive as your retinas. The damage won’t be as life-altering, but it will be just as permanent.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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