If you plan to be in Merced County during the total solar eclipse, you won’t get the full effect but you could still be in for a spectacle, according to Merced professors.
From Merced’s vantage point, residents can see the moon obscure about 74 percent of the sun during the Aug. 21 eclipse, according to Wil van Breugel, an astrophysicist and professor emeritus at UC Merced. But, the sun won’t go dark.
“The eclipse will be here, but the sun is so bright that you might not be able to tell when you look around,” van Breugel said. “It might just seem fainter.”
He warns sky gazers never to look at the eclipse without specialized protective eye wear, and to beware of swindlers selling phony eclipse glasses online.
People interested in eclipse-watching in the Merced area can expect to see it from 9:03 a.m. to 11:41 a.m., according to a UC Merced professor. It reaches its maximum at 10:18 a.m.
People interested in eclipse-watching in the Merced area can expect to see it from 9:03 a.m. to 11:41 a.m., according to van Breugel. It reaches its maximum at 10:18 a.m.
If you haven’t already planned to be in the dark zone — where the sun will be totally obscured — it’s probably too late, according to Van Breugel. “It’s estimated that as many as 7 million people in the U.S. will be driving into the dark zone,” van Breugel said. “If you’re near a densely populated area, going to the dark zone might be a traffic nightmare.”
Many cities in the dark zone have had their hotels booked for months, according to media reports.
A 60-mile-wide band from Oregon to South Carolina makes up the dark zone, according to van Breugel.
A 60-mile-wide band from Oregon to South Carolina makes up the dark zone, according to UC Merced professor.
The phenomenon could also be a chance for shutterbugs to shoot a dynamic photo, according to Christopher Viney, a UC Merced materials science and engineering professor who moonlights as a photographer. Viney said the filter makes the difference.
“An 18-stop filter with an optical density of around 5.4 will allow for an exposure that captures the edge of the moon’s shadow within the shutter speed range of a standard camera,” Viney said.
Viney stressed that a camera and filter are not enough to protect a photographer’s eyes. “People make the mistake of thinking something good enough to protect the camera is enough to protect your eyes. That’s not true,” Viney said. “What’s on the camera only protects the camera.”
Merced College’s library is hosting a spot for students and staff to make a pinhole camera, a safe way to view the eclipse, according to school staffers.
Van Breugel put together more information about the science of the eclipse that can be found here.