I am psyched about the eclipse. I’m traveling to see it properly, because in Indianapolis, the Sun will only be 91% eclipsed by the Moon. That’s as good as I’ve ever seen it before (in 1986 and 1994), but this time I want to see the stars come out in the daytime, and I want to see the corona.
In 1986, I was really unsafe and looked at the eclipse through a stack of exposed slides. I have no idea if it blocked enough light to be safe, and even then I only took quick peeks because I wasn’t sure. But I did see it, and it was fun when many of the other kids in my high school had no idea why it was getting dark outside without a cloud in the sky.
Don’t be stupid, do not look directly at the Sun. Ever burn things with a magnifying glass as a kid? The lens in your eyeball will do that to your retina and you will be blinded.
In 1994, I was working for the Indiana University Astronomy Department, and I’d set up their first webserver. I found out that we had a solar telescope at Kirkwood Observatory, and that a Sparc 5 workstation (made by Sun) had a video capture card. I set things up so that an image would be taken every minute and that it would be copied over the the webserver every 5 minutes. The thought was that we had no idea how much load it would put on the machine if it was viewable more often. And as it turns out, we had over 2000 unique visitors in 4 hours, and I was especially proud of the visits from NASA and from other countries. I was also happy to have been emailed by a professor elsewhere who’d shown the eclipse to his class of a hundred or so thanks to my web-broadcast.
To this day, I count that as the event that really launched my career with the web and as a sysadmin.
So here’s what I learned on that day in 1994. Of course, you can easily buy eclipse glasses to view the event, but here are some safe, low tech ways as well: