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Local astronomer Burt Watson gives tips for eclipse viewers

Burt Watson with two of the telescopes he has prepared for viewing the total solar eclipse.
Burt Watson with two of the telescopes he has prepared for viewing the total solar eclipse.

“Star light, star bright” will be suspended at 11:30 a.m. CDT on August 21 as a total solar eclipse occurs along a 60-mile-wide path across central Nebraska.

“While Albion will not view the total solar eclipse, those just a few miles south of Fullerton will,” said Burt Watson, who organized the local Boone County Astronomy Club.

When the moon obscures the face of the sun, all you will see is the corona surrounding the sun, he said. The corona is basically a huge gas cloud heated to a million degrees—much hotter than even the surface of the sun.

Vision can be permanently harmed by looking directly at the sun, Burt emphasized.

Special solar eclipse lenses are needed on telescopes, cameras and glasses.

Eye Physicians, P.C., in Albion has the special solar viewing glasses available free of charge, starting today, while supplies last.

Anyone using welding helmets must know that acetylene goggles are not dark enough. Arc welder helmets will be okay if they are a shade 14 or darker.

“You may not think you are hurting your eyes because it’s dark enough you can handle it; but it’s actually transmitting an awful lot of that radiation and ultraviolet and infrared rays, and that is what is burning your eyes and tearing up your retinas,” Watson emphasized.

Watson plans to set up his telescope in Albion, likely in the open area where the old Albion Swimming Pool was located, for eclipse viewing on Aug. 21. He will be out of town, monitoring the eclipse from the path of totality near Ansley, NE.  He hopes to find a volunteer to oversee the use of his telescope here in Albion during the eclipse.

Read complete feature by Twylla Crosby in the Aug. 9 Albion News Print and E-Editions.