Take safety seriously during solar eclipse

You may be tempted to look skyward Aug. 21, but please avert your eyes from the eclipsed sun’s glory. It can hurt you.

There will be no full solar eclipse for Houston viewers – it will peak at 1:17 p.m., when the moon covers 66 percent of the sun – so there will be no moment when the sun is safe to view directly. Have a look at NASA’s recommendations for viewing the rare eclipse through specialized solar filters or by other means here:


If you are on campus, Rice physics and astronomy faculty members will have several properly configured telescopes set up near the William Marsh Rice statue in the Academic Quad from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., weather permitting. See details at https://events.rice.edu/#!view/event/date/20170821/event_id/878.

Rice’s Patricia Reiff, a professor of physics and astronomy and a self-professed umbraphile, reminded observers to never look at the sun, even during an eclipse, without appropriate protection for the eyes. Only during the brief time of totality (and only for folks who have traveled to the path of totality) is it safe to use naked eyes or unfiltered binoculars and telescopes to view the awesome sight.

But if you are properly prepared, do check it out, even if you can’t travel to the narrow band of moonshadow that will race across America.

“No two are alike,” Reiff said of the total eclipse experience. “The sun’s corona appears different, depending upon the time of year and the phase of the solar cycle. Eclipses that occur near sunrise or sunset can have lovely reflections along the water or placement near interesting objects. Eclipses that occur near noon are best to see the moon’s shadow racing toward you at 1,000 miles per hour, like a black tornado.”

Reiff’s eclipse page at http://space.rice.edu/eclipse has links to many resources, including a 90-minute free eclipse training video. You can also read about her continuing quest to be in the right place at the right time here: http://news.rice.edu/2016/04/07/the-way-i-see-it-journey-of-the-umbraphile/.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.