Very useful eclipse calculator (and traffic horror warning)

If you’re anywhere near the path of Monday’s solar eclipse in the United States, you’ll want to check out Vox’s eclipse page (link) to get an idea what the eclipse will look like where you live. Just enter your zip code and it will tell you the local time for the eclipse maximum, the percentage of totality you’ll experience, and even an animation showing you roughly what you can expect to see.

Speaking of seeing, and this is important, various news reports indicate that a significant fraction of the eclipse glasses being sold are fake and entirely inadequate. Some counterfeit glasses are reportedly stamped with an ISO designation meant to indicate safety certification, so contrary to press reports that’s no guarantee the glasses are safe.

Vanderbilt University has had to recall 8000 pairs of eclipse glasses, and a school district in Kansas discovered that more than 3000 it had purchased from were bogus.

Popular Science and CNET have advice on checking whether the glasses are safe. Please pass on these links:

A quick test: Indoors, turn on a lamp with a shade on it. If you can see it through the eclipse glasses, they aren’t safe. If you glance at the sun through a pair of eclipse glasses it should look no brighter than a full moon.

I’ve experienced a total solar eclipse before, and I found that the most interesting part isn’t the eclipse proper but what happens around it, notably the daytime darkness. So I won’t be looking directly at the sun, I’ll be checking out everything else. And later I’ll look at the eclipse on line, in clear telescopic views better than I could possibly see through ultra-dark eclipse glasses. (I won’t be in the path of totality anyway, but where I live more than 90 percent of the solar disk will be covered, which is enough to keep me from trying to drive to South Carolina.)

One more thing: Traffic into and out of the eclipse zone is likely to be horrendous. Here’s Monday’s XKCD comic about that:

Google traffic implies high automobile traffic to see eclipse

See for more explanation of the comic.

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