This is a cuneiform text and transliteration of the first recorded total solar eclipse. It was observed in Ugarit, an ancient city on the northeast Mediterranean shore and it took place in early afternoon on the first day of month Ḫiyaru with planet Mars in conjunction. Thus we know it took place on what we would call the 5th of March, 1223 BCE at about 13:20 local time. I wrote a little more about it earlier on this blog.
Now we are in luck! There will be another solar eclipse visible over North America on the 21st of August.
Unfortunately NYC will not be in the path of totality, yet the Sun will be almost 72% eclipsed which itself will be a spectacular celestial event. The sky will substantially darken and the Sun, covered by the Moon, will look like a crescent. BUT DON’T LOOK EVEN INTO THE ECLIPSING SUN UNLESS YOU HAVE PROPER EYE PROTECTION! Normal sunglasses do not provide sufficient protection; also do not use exposed films, CD and DVD discs or similar DIY contraptions.
For safe observation of the Sun you need either proper sun-gazing glasses, professional filters or high grade electric welding shields. As spectacular as the solar eclipse might be, you do not want to fry your eyes and thus seriously and permanently harm your eyesight!
An excellent and easy option is to make your own pinhole camera - make a small hole in the center of a larger size cardboard and cast a shadow on a flat white surface. Then you can observe the projection in the middle of the shadow. (Never look through that pinhole directly at the sun!). ALWAYS SUPERVISE CHILDREN TO ENSURE THEY ARE NOT LOOKING AT THE SUN WITHOUT PROPER PROTECTION. Here are some further safety tips from NASA: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety
I made measurements for our church’s roof garden (coordinates 40.77950N and 73.98231W). The disk of the moon will make the first contact with the Sun on Monday, August 21st at 17:23:14.7 Coordinated Universal Time (which is 1:23pm Eastern Summer Time), the maximum eclipse will arrive at 18:44:54.4 UTC (2:44pm EST) and the eclipse will end at 20:00:36.9 UTC (4:00 EST).
Plan, prepare and enjoy! If you have any questions, contact pastor Andrew. astehlik(a)rutgerschurch.org
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