Eyes to the sky for eclipse and beyond


On your way to today’s all-day Bay to Breakers post-party, we hope you didn’t forget: a) your DIY pinhole camera; and b) to not get so wasted that you blacked out before Sunday evening’s solar eclipse.

The first partial solar eclipse in 18 years is taking over the skies between 5:16 and 7:40 p.m., as the moon makes its way across the sun.

At the peak of the eclipse  — about 6:30 p.m. — the moon will cover 94 percent of the sun’s disk and leave a “ring of fire,” a phenomenon that has captivated and horrified us mortals for centuries.

But don’t be bummed when you don’t see a perfect solar ring in the skies. Jonathan Braidman, an astronomy instructor at Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center said Bay Area citizens will only see a crescent.

If you want to view the eclipse, but don’t already own a pair of special solar eclipse goggles (nerd), then make your own pinhole projector with a long box, two pieces of cardboard or even your hands.

And here is our official SFBay C.O.A. declaration of safety:

Do not, we repeat, do not directly look at the sun with the naked eye. This includes looking through binoculars, cameras or telescopes. Braidman told Bay Nature:

“No one is going to completely not look. So all we can do is ask people not to look directly at the sun.”

And yes, there are even special safety instructions for photographers and their cameras, too.

For best viewing positions, Braidman suggested finding an unobstructed view of the Southwestern horizon (i.e.: where the sun sets). In San Francisco, the best spots will be at Ocean Beach or Land’s End in the Outer Richmond. In case of fog, try higher elevations like Fort Funston.

If Sunday’s eclipse gets you pumped for even more skyward action, more astronomical anomalies will be served up in the next couple of weeks.

On June 4, a partial lunar eclipse will mask about a third of the moon beneath Earth’s shadow. The next day marks a rare “Transit of Venus,” where the planet will be visible as a small dark disk moving across the Sun.

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