How to View the Eclipse Safely with a Pizza Box

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"During most new Moons when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, the Moon's orbit takes it a little bit above the plane of the Earth's orbit or a little bit below the plane of the Earth's orbit and what that means is you see the Moon passing a little bit above the Sun or a little bit below the Sun, but at least twice a year we get some type of a solar eclipse". They're the first postage stamp in this country that uses thermocromatic ink that changes the image when you touch the stamp.

The eclipse will only be "total" for about two minutes within a 70-mile-wide swath running from OR to SC.

My reason for traveling to see the total eclipse may be different from yours.

Brooklynites can head over to the Clinton Hill Library at 380 Washington Avenue (at Lafayette Avenue) on Monday for a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party from 1:30pm-4pm where they'll distribute viewing glasses and show attendees how to make a pinhole viewer. The moon covering the sun disappears.

An eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won't want to miss, but you must carefully follow safety procedures.

"This is actually really useful, that the sun is being blocked out behind the moon, because the photosphere, this main body of the sun, is so much brighter than the atmosphere around it that we usually can't see the atmosphere around the sun", she says. "Everyone should watch how the sun's reduced light affects our landscape and the enhanced contrast between light and shadow which will make for great photographic opportunities".

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"To actually get to see it live and in person with my naked eye, is just going to be..." If you're in a pinch a sheet of No. 14 welder's glass might work. If the sky is clear, you are guaranteed to find it worthwhile. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon's apparent diameter is larger than the sun's, blocking all direct sunlight.

If you're not in the zone of totality, as will be the case for most of the country, the eclipse will be intellectually interesting but not dramatic.

Because this eclipse is so accessible, scientists have planned dozens of expeditions.

We hope to learn more about how the sun shines. NBC also plans live coverage, with Lester Holt hosting special reports at noon and 1 p.m. featuring correspondents reporting from Oregon, Illinois, Wyoming and SC.

But the most important scientific outcome from this year's eclipse may be more fundamental: inspiring a 7- or 8-year-old girl or boy somewhere to enter a career of science, perhaps even leading to a fantastically wonderful discovery 20 or 30 years from now. It might just be the key to some hitherto unimaginable breakthrough benefiting all the people of the world.

Jay Pasachoff is chair of the International Astronomical Union's Working Group on Solar Eclipses and a professor of astronomy at Williams College.

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