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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Aug 08

Solar Eclipse Occurs Monday, August 21

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 11:01 AM by Communications Department

How to safely view it without damaging your eyes

Everyone has been talking about the big event happening August 21 – the total solar eclipse. It has been almost 100 years since a total solar eclipse crossed the entire United States from the Pacific to the Atlantic. From the Mayan myth of demons eating the sun to the Viking myth of sky wolves on the hunt, cultures from all ages and across the world have tried to explain this celestial event. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, totally or partially blocking the sun. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth's surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of miles wide.
According to, the path of totality for the August 21 total solar eclipse is about 70 miles wide and stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. It passes through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Those outside of the path of the total eclipse will see a partial solar eclipse where it looks like the moon is taking a bite out of the sun. All of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun, either total or partial. Here in Newport News, we will experience a partial eclipse beginning around 1:20 p.m. and lasting until just after 4:00 p.m.

Remember, looking directly at the sun, even when partially covered by the moon can cause serious eye damage or blindness. Special eye protection is needed to view the eclipse as regular sunglasses will not be enough. NASA advises that the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is with a pinhole projection. Instructions for a simple pinhole projection camera are available from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory website

Even though Newport News will only experience a partial eclipse, it is possible to see the total eclipse from the comfort of an indoor exhibit. The Virginia Living Museum is holding the Great American Eclipse Viewing on August 21 from 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. The viewing offers telescope views of the sun throughout the eclipse and provides eclipse glasses to visitors for direct viewing. In case of inclement weather, the museum will attempt to display a live webcast of the total solar eclipse in the Abbitt Planetarium. The Virginia Living Museum is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Blvd. in Newport News. For more information, visit the museum’s Great American Eclipse website.