A mis­sion to view the eclipse — with­out glasses

The Boyertown Area Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Re­becca Blan­chard rblan­chard@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @boy­er­town­times on Twit­ter

I knew the so­lar eclipse on Mon­day, Aug. 21, would be mem­o­rable. Up un­til Mon­day morn­ing, I wasn’t ex­actly what my plans were and how I would view it.

A week prior, and only a week prior, I be­gan read­ing about how spe­cial eclipse glasses were re­quired if you wanted to look di­rectly at it. I sat with this in­for­ma­tion for only about a day or so un­der the fever struck me and I ran to the var­i­ous re­tail­ers listed as car­ri­ers of the glasses. Of course, every­where was sold out. I was not as sur­prised as I was dis­ap­pointed. I con­tin­ued to do my re­search and took com­fort in the other op­tions pre­sented.

I could make a pin­hole pro­jec­tion cam­era or view the live stream­ing via NASA, but I knew watch­ing it on a screen would not be very sat­is­fy­ing to me. I also knew about the var­i­ous view­ing par­ties in the area, how­ever I didn’t feel that would be a vi­able op­tion for me. At last, I read that there would be nat­u­ral ef­fects in the shad­ows of tree leaves and such. The trees would serve as a nat­u­ral pin­hole cam­era.

I knew right away this was some­thing I wanted to see and I de­cided this would be my best way to view the par­tial eclipse. I knew noth­ing was guar­an­teed and I didn’t come up with a backup plan.

By choos­ing this method, all I had to do was to make sure I was near the right trees at the right mo­ment.

Around 1 p.m. on Mon­day in Pottstown, the sky was pretty cloudy. I was not op­ti­mistic and many oth­ers felt sim­i­larly. The ground was dark, with only a flick­er­ing of light ev­ery few min­utes.

As 2:30 p.m. rolled around, with the cli­max of the event set for 2:44 p.m., I re­mained out­side to see if con­di­tion would im­prove. And sud­denly, as I stood on the porch, I could see dozens of little cres­cents. It was won­der­ful. It took the mo­ment in and then started snap­ping pho­tos, rac­ing the clouds that would surely drift back over.

In ad­di­tion to the shad­ows, I also greatly en­joyed view­ing the live news cov­er­age from across the coun­try. We were all able to ex­pe­ri­ence the same thing – the same rare, nat­u­ral thing – and it was beau­ti­ful.

The next to­tal so­lar eclipse will oc­cur in April 2024 — for that one, I will be sure to get my glasses well in ad­vance.


A dis­tant view of shad­ows. While it may be dif­fi­cult to see, there are hun­dreds of little cres­cents.

A view of the so­lar eclipse through the shad­ows. Photo taken at 2:54 p.m. on Mon­day, Aug. 21, in Pottstown.

The so­lar eclipse cre­ated this cres­cent ef­fect in the shad­ows of the trees. This photo was taken at 2:34 p.m. on Mon­day, Aug. 21, in Pottstown.

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