Dr. William C. Keel, professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Alabama, is available to talk about how to view the solar eclipse happening across North America Aug. 21.

Although much of the United States will not be in the path of a total eclipse, there is still the opportunity to vew a partial eclipse.

Astronomers at The University of Alabama urge people to view the phases of the eclipse safely by not looking directly at the sun.

“The sun light is just as dangerous during an eclipse as any other day, but we tend not to want to look directly at the sun normally,” said Dr. William C. Keel, UA professor of physics and astronomy.

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will move from coast to coast across the continental United States Aug. 21, and all of North America will experience a partial eclipse.

The best way to view the partial solar eclipse are pinhole projections, solar filters and projections from telescopes or binoculars, Keel said.

  • Pinhole projection – In this method, sunlight passing through a small hole makes an image of the sun on whatever surface is used as a screen. The image of the sun gets larger the further the screen is from the hole, and only small holes will work, Keel said. A puncture in cardboard or aluminum foil works well, but any material works, and even gaps in tree leaves can project the eclipse onto the ground, he said.
  • Solar filters – Solar filters are thin films in a cardboard or plastic mount. Only special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers, are sufficient to look at the sun. Several vendors can provide safe solar filters, Keel said.
  • Projections through lenses – Most telescopes and binoculars can focus enough to project a sharp image of the sun onto a sheet behind the eyepiece. Telescopes with eyepieces at a 90-degree angle from the tube offer easy ways to shade the image for clearer views, Keel said. Those choosing this method need to be careful to keep anyone from looking directly through the eyepiece to avoid severe damage to the eye.

For a partial eclipse, Keel said it takes about 80 percent coverage for people on the ground to notice the eclipse without one of the other three methods, Keel said.

“A partial eclipse will look like the moon is taking a bite out of the sun,” he said.

Keel’s research is broadly centered on the evolution of galaxies, including studies of galaxies and groups at high redshifts, ultraviolet studies of nearby galaxies as points of comparison for objects seen at higher redshift, and infrared observations to measure the ages of stellar populations in the early universe.

To schedule an interview contact Keel or Adam Jones at UA Communications at 205-348-4328 or [email protected].