Two local science organizations are offering help to people wondering how to observe the solar eclipse, which will impact all of the mainland United States on Aug. 21.
From noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Science Central, 1950 N. Clinton St., will hold an AWS Special Abilities and Solar Eclipse Preparation Day for people with disabilities and for the general public. The event is free to those who pre-registered.
At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society will offer more information about solar eclipses and show people how to make a pinhole eclipse viewer during the nonprofit group's general meeting at the main branch of the Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza.
A solar eclipse takes place when the orbit of the moon puts it the path of the sun's rays beaming toward Earth. As the moon passes by the sun, the moon completely blocks the sunlight in an area of total eclipse and blocks a portion of the sun's light in areas of partial eclipse.
This time, the path of total eclipse will be about 70 miles wide and begins in Oregon on the west coast and travels to South Carolina on the east coast, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reports on its eclipse website, eclipse2017.nasa.gov.
The path goes just south of the Indiana border, which means Fort Wayne will experience a partial solar eclipse with about 85 percent of the sun blocked, Science Central Executive Director Martin S. Fisher said in a news release. The eclipse will be visible here from about noon to 3 p.m.
Experiencing a solar eclipse requires care: Looking at the sun during the eclipse — or at any other time — without the proper protective gear can cause eye damage, NASA said. You will need special eclipse or solar viewers to look at the sun safely. Normal sunglasses don't provide enough protection.
Science Central's event Sunday will show people how to experience the solar eclipse safely during hands-on activities and demonstrations, the science center said on its website, www.sciencecentral.org. Free solar eclipse viewing glasses will be given out to participants, while supplies last. For information, call 424-2400.
Science Central's gift shop is selling solar eclipse viewing cards for $1.99 each to the public and for $1 each for Science Central members.
In addition to its preparation event, the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society also will help people experience the solar eclipse by having members out from noon to 3 p.m. Aug. 21 in the plaza outside the main library, a group news release said. Admission is free.
Astronomical society members will set up telescopes with protective solar filters and will have projectors available so people can see the eclipse up close, the news release said. The Bravas and Ragin' Cajun food trucks also will be parked nearby so people can enjoy food while they watch.
Eclipse viewing glasses also will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis on the library plaza, the news release said.
Solar eclipse safety tips
The following information was provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):
* Homemade filters and ordinary sunglasses don't provide enough protection for looking at the sun or the eclipse.
* Check the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers link, https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters, for a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers that are verified to comply with ISO 12312-2, international safety standard for these products.
* Inspect solar filters before use. If it is scratched or damaged, throw it away. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
* Always supervise children using solar filters.
* Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. Turn away from the sun before removing the solar filter.
* Don't look at the sun during the eclipse or at any other time through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device, even if wearing eclipse glasses or a solar viewer. The optical device concentrates the sun's light, which can damage the solar viewer and then your eyes.
* Get help from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, telescope or other optical device. The filter should always go on the front of the device.
* If you normally wear eyeglasses, put the eclipse-viewing glasses over them or hold the hand-held solar viewer in front of them.