Skywatchers interested in the solar eclipse that will darken skies from Oregon to South Carolina on Monday, Aug. 21 are invited to an observation party at Natchitoches Parish Library hosted by Northwestern State University Professor Dr. Chad Thibodeaux.  The event is from 1-2 p.m. when the sun should be most covered.

“I will have a couple of special telescopes out there for people to look through as well our solar telescope,” Thibodeaux said.  “Since we are not in the path of totality, the sun won’t be 100 percent covered by the moon. However, we still will see 70-80 percent coverage. It will be pretty amazing to see.”

Although eclipses happen about every six months, the Aug. 21 event will be the first time in 40 years the moon’s shadow passed through the U.S. and the first time in roughly 99 years it crossed the entire North American continent, Thibodeaux said.

Natchitoches Parish Library will be giving away special glasses for the event.  Skywatchers should never look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection.  Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause eye damage.  Viewers should use protective solar viewing glasses to protect their eyes. Sunglasses should not be used in place of solar viewing glasses.  Binoculars and cameras should also be fitted with solar filters.  Pointing an unprotected lens directly at the sun can damage the instrument.  Individuals should never look at the sun through binoculars or a camera lens without a solar filter as magnified light can damage eyes more quickly than looking at the sun unaided.

The path of totality for the Aug. 21 eclipse is about 70 miles wide and will pass through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.  Outside the path, viewers will see a partial eclipse in which the moon appears to take a bite out of the sun’s disk.

The next solar eclipse that will be visible in the U.S. will take place in 2024, according to scientists, when skies will darken above Mexico and Texas through the Midwest and northeastern U.S.