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Get Ready for the Great ­American Eclipse

New moon blots out much of the sun in ­Chesapeake Country
     With the great buildup to what is being called “the celestial event of the century” come a lot of questions about the Great American Eclipse. Here are some answers.
 
What is the Great American Eclipse?
     On August 21, the earth will cross the shadow of the moon, creating an eclipse. Eclipses happen about every six months, but this one is special. For the first time in almost 40 years, the path of the moon’s shadow passes through the continental United States, creating a total solar eclipse.
 
What will I see?
     Everyone who looks will see the moon at least partially block the sun. Watchers along a 3,000-mile swath some 60 to 70 miles wide cutting through the country’s mid-section will experience daytime darkness as the sun is blocked entirely for up to two minutes, 40 seconds.
     Chesapeake Country lies outside that centerline, so Marylanders will see about 80 percent of the sun covered. The sky will darken as though it were twilight, the air will cool, the stars will appear and the black sphere of the moon will be surrounded by the sun’s corona.
 
When does this happen?
      Totality lasting for two minutes or more will be visible from Oregon to South Carolina. It is estimated that tens of thousands of people will travel to those locations for the event. The eclipse will start around 1:18pm EST, reaching maximum coverage at 2:43pm and concluding at 4:02pm.
 
Who will be watching?
      Eclipse parties are happening all over the continent. Head to any Calvert Library branch (1-4pm) for viewing and get free protective glasses (first come, first served). In Calvert County, the maximum partial eclipse occurs at 2:42pm.
In Anne Arundel County, the following library branches will host watch parties and provide glasses (while supplies last): 1pm at Severna Park and Maryland City; 1:30pm at Odenton; 2pm at Eastport-Annapolis Neck; 2:30pm at Brooklyn Park.
      Watch parties will also be held at the Spaceflight America Museum in Prince Frederick and the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore. The Smithsonian Air & Space Museum will be online live from the public observatory.
 
How do I prepare?
     Watching a solar eclipse requires a bit of preparation for safety’s sake. Looking directly at the sun is unsafe, so special glasses with solar filters are a necessity. Homemade filters or sunglasses should not be used; same goes for cameras, telescopes or binoculars. Order glasses online, look for them in home improvement and discount stores or head to a local library watch party to get them for free.
     Find eclipse-related activities at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/activities.
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