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home : columnists : rep. kathy kreag richardson October 19, 2017

Watching the solar eclipse in Hamilton County

By Kathy Kreag Richardson
Indiana State Representative, District 29

On Monday, Aug. 21, Hoosiers will have the opportunity to see one of nature's greatest phenomena: a total solar eclipse. During this time, the moon will pass between the sun and earth and completely block the sun from view in parts of North America. While we will be treated to this beautiful and rare spectacle, it is also important that we take appropriate steps to be safe.

While we will not be able to see a total solar eclipse in Noblesville, we can witness a partial eclipse with about 90 percent of the sun covered by the moon. The eclipse will run from approximately 1-4 p.m. Coverage of the sun will reach its peak at 2:25 p.m.

When viewing the eclipse, remember to avoid looking directly at the sun. Even looking at a partially eclipsed sun is dangerous and can lead to damage of the retina.

The only safe way to look at the sun is through a solar filter, which is used in special eclipse glasses. These are not the same as sunglasses, which do not offer sufficient protection. Some local libraries are giving out eclipse glasses for free, while supplies last. You can also buy eclipse glasses in many retail stores or online. When purchasing, make sure you are doing so through a reputable manufacturer or dealer of eclipse glasses, which you can check at eclipse.aas.org.

The pinhole projector is another method of viewing a solar eclipse safely. A pinhole projector is essentially a box with a very small hole poked through one side to let in sunlight and project an image of the sun on the inside of the other end of the box. It can also double as a fun, inexpensive craft and learning experience for children.

Regardless of what technique you use to protect your eyes, do not stare continuously at the sun for long periods of time and be sure to give your eyes a break.

Approximately 200 million people live within a day's drive of the path of this total eclipse. The Indiana Department of Transportation expects traffic to increase in the Southern part of the state as people venture toward Western Kentucky to see a total solar eclipse. INDOT advises that those on the road be cautious and do not attempt to take photos of the eclipse or wear eclipse glasses while driving. In addition, please do not stop on the interstate or park along the shoulder during the eclipse.

Viewing events for the eclipse will be occurring throughout our community and surrounding area.

The Nickle Plate District Amphitheater is hosting the Great American Eclipse Viewing from 1-4 p.m. Those in attendance will receive a free pair of eclipse glasses, safety information and a chocolate moonpie. If the weather impacts outdoor viewing, online coverage will be available in the meeting rooms of the Hamilton East Public Library.

At the Earth Discovery Center in Eagle Creek Park, visitors will be able to learn how to safely view the eclipse with a pinhole projector. The event runs from 1-3 p.m. and is free with park admission.

Now through Monday, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is also offering a STEMLab with NASA-themed experiments for young ones to learn all about eclipses and phases of the moon. You can purchase tickets at www.childrensmuseum.org.

If you are unable to see the eclipse, NASA will live-stream an Eclipse Megacast, which can be accessed at nasa.gov/eclipselive. For more information about solar eclipses, visit eclipse2017.nasa.gov or eclipse.aas.org.

This will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the contiguous United States in 38 years, and the first one to be visible from coast to coast in 99 years. So let's keep our fingers crossed for clear skies, as the next total solar eclipse viewable in North America will not occur until 2024.

Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at h29@in.gov.

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