Sun-eating dragon takes direct path over Lassen County
|For information about organizations offering eclipse viewing events, see this weeks' edition of the Lassen County Times.|
Some Australian aboriginal tribes, however, took a more romantic view and believed the sun and the moon made love during those moments when the moon passes between the Earth and sun, creating a shadow across the land.
Today, while most people find the mythology of an eclipse little more than old wives tales, and science gives us plenty of facts for its occurrence, a solar eclipse is, nevertheless, an occasion of beauty and mystery.
One moment the sun is shining, then the light fades, the birds grow silent and a black disc slides across the sun. The sky grows dark.
On Sunday, May 20, Lassen County residents will have prime seats for the annular “ring of fire” solar eclipse. The entire eclipse will last more than three hours.
However, prime viewing will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. with the ring of fire effect taking place close to 7:30 p.m. The centerline of the eclipse path will fall directly over Janesville. However, any place in the county should be excellent viewing.
This annular eclipse should not be confused with a total eclipse. With a total eclipse, the moon would need to be closer to the Earth and would completely cover the sun, casting a large shadow across the Earth. This annular eclipse will resemble a bulls-eye with a ring of the sun visible around the moon.
Andrew Hall, an astronomy instructor at Lassen Community College said, “In all honesty, any place with no obstructions are generally good viewing for a solar eclipse. The shadow's size makes viewing from anywhere in Susanville just fine. Just take a moment and search out a comfortable spot that avoids power-lines, trees or other man-made stuff that could get in the way. Oh, and don't forget your easy chair so your neck doesn't get sore.”
The annual “ring of fire” eclipse will be the first solar eclipse visible in this part of the country in 18 years. Although, it will not be a full eclipse, it should, nevertheless, provide for spectacular viewing.
Probably the most important thing to remember for viewing the eclipse is never look at the sun with the naked eye. This includes using optical devices such as binoculars or a telescope.
Since this is a partial eclipse, there will be no safe time to look at the sun. Doing so can cause permanent eye damage or blindness.
The sun can be viewed only when using filters specifically designed for this purpose.
One of the easiest, and cheapest ways, of seeing the eclipse is with a “pinhole camera” that can be made from a box, aluminum foil and a sheet of white paper.
For information on making one, visit www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/how.
Photographers will, no doubt, want to take advantage of this once in a lifetime event. Precautions should be used, however, as the same dangers apply for photography as looking at the sun with the naked eye. NASA's top eclipse expert, Fred Espenak, offers a guide to photographing any kind of solar eclipse easily and safely at mreclipse.com/MrEclipse.html.
Lassen Land and Trails Trust (LLTT) will be hosting the viewing at the Lassen Creek Conservation Area just off Richmond Rd. There is no fee; however, reservations are required to ensure enough viewing glasses and take-home literature about the event is available.
For more information, and to register for the viewing, visit llttweb.org or call 257-3252.
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