Watch for the eclipse this evening

The moon will take a bite out of the sun on Friday, April 8 — or at least it will appear to do so, when a partial solar eclipse will take place. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of the southern U.S., while the immediate area will enjoy a less dramatic event with between 5 and 10 percent coverage of the sun at the eclipse’s peak.

For those in Delaware, the eclipse is set to begin at approximately 6:01 p.m., with maximum coverage at 6:20 p.m. and conclusion at 6:38 p.m.

Eclipse scientists from the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) have issued reminders that extreme care must be taken when looking at the sun, to prevent permanent eye damage. Never look directly at the sun with the naked eye or through any optical device (camera, binoculars or telescope).

There are a several types of solar filters designed specifically for eclipse viewing, but for those who didn’t plan ahead or who prefer an old-fashioned do-it-yourself method, the pinhole projection method is another method by which to safely watch a solar eclipse.

Fancy pinhole cameras can be made out of cardboard boxes, but NASA asserts a quick and portable version can be made out of two thin, but stiff, pieces of white cardboard:

• Punch a small clean pinhole in one piece of cardboard and let the sunlight fall through that hole onto the second piece of cardboard, which serves as a screen held below it. An inverted image of the sun is formed.

• To make the image larger, move the screen farther from the pinhole.

• To make the image brighter, move the screen closer to the pinhole.

• Do not make the pinhole wide or the result will be a shaft of sunlight rather than an image of the sun.

• This instrument is used with the viewer’s back to the sun. The sunlight passes over the viewer’s shoulder, through the pinhole, and forms an image on the cardboard screen beneath it. Do not look through the pinhole at the sun.

The April 8 eclipse is the only solar eclipse expected to be visible in the area through 2005. Partial lunar eclipses may be visible in the area on April 24 and Oct. 17, 2005.