‘Black Hole Sun’ coming to Ohio

Patrick Durrell said eclipse glasses are necessary when view- ing the eclipse. Photo by Christopher Gillett / Jambar Contributor

By Christopher Gillett
Jambar Contributor

Much of the United States, including Ohio, is in the path for an upcoming solar eclipse April 8.

While Youngstown will only be in the path for a partial eclipse, other cities, such as Cleveland, Akron and Dayton, will be under a total solar eclipse.

Patrick Durrell, an astronomy professor at Youngstown State University, said Ohioans will have the opportunity to see a rare celestial event.

“The total solar eclipse, from our viewpoint, is where the moon briefly covers up the entire disk of the sun. So, it’s going to go dark, most of the light from the sun is blocked, and you actually have the chance to see the faint, very outer atmosphere of the sun called the corona,” Durrell said.

Durrell said a solar eclipse takes place when the moon moves in front of the sun.

“The moon orbits the earth, and about once a month, the moon is roughly in the same direction in between the earth and the sun. Most of the time, the alignment is not perfect. The moon is either above a bit or below a bit, so you don’t have an eclipse,” Durrell said.

According to Durrell, a solar eclipse near Youngstown is a rare opportunity.

“[Solar eclipses] happen once or twice a year, but the shadow of the moon is only a little over 100 miles wide. So, that means most of the time, you have to go someplace to see one of these. This one is special because it is right in our backyard,” Durrell said.

Youngstown will not be this close to the path of a solar eclipse again until 2099.

For Durrell, the total solar eclipse will be a first.

“I’ve seen three or four partial solar eclipses, and they’re neat to see, but it’s nothing like a total solar eclipse. So, this is the opportunity to drive a short distance from YSU and see a total eclipse. You got to take that opportunity,” Durrell said.

Eye safety is an important consideration for viewing a solar eclipse. Viewers should purchase a proper pair of eclipse glasses to protect their eyes. A pair of regular sunglasses will not suffice.

According to Durrell, people can take off their glasses only when the moon completely covers the sun.

“It’ll get dark enough. You won’t actually see it with [eclipse glasses] on. You’ll actually have to take [them] off to see the total solar eclipse,” Durrell said. “That’s only going to last a minute or two. Even if the moon covers most of the sun, like just before and after, you still need [eclipse glasses] on.”

Durrell said a pair of eclipse glasses from a previous solar eclipse is likely expired by now.

“If [you] bought eclipse glasses from the 2017 eclipse, you probably want to get new ones only because, after a while, these things get stored away. You might’ve put them in a bin, and something might’ve scratched the surface,” Durrell said. “Don’t laugh it off. ‘Oh I don’t need those.’ Yes you do.”

Durrell recommends purchasing glasses online from greatamericaneclipse.com.

According to WMFJ, the Mahoning Valley Astronomical Society will be selling glasses for $2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 23 at the Sparkle Market on South Avenue in Youngstown and from 5 to 9 p.m. the same day at the Ward Beecher Hall’s lobby.

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