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The first thing you've probably noticed in this issue is a pair of strange, opaque glasses in cardboard mounts. These glasses are especially designed for viewing the sun. As long as they are not damaged, they are perfectly safe for looking at the sun with the naked eye. We have included them because on May 10 of this year, there will be an eclipse of the sun visible over all of the United States and all but the northernmost regions of Canada.

The map on the next page shows the path of the eclipse and the time when the sun will be the most covered at any particular region. It must be noted that the eclipse is not a total eclipse of the sun. The moon will be too far from the earth to completely cover the sun. Instead there will be a bright ring of sunlight surrounding the moon. Such an eclipse is called an annular eclipse. The lower right concentric circles show what one can expect to see in the center of the band curving from Maine to Baja California. Outside of that region, the moon will be seen to “eat” into the sun, but not centered over the sun.

The percentages printed around the perimeter of the U.S.A. show the fraction of the sun which will be covered by the moon. Thus people over northern Washington state (including southern Vancouver Island) will see about 50% of the sun covered by the moon. People in an arc from Lake Superior to Los Angeles will see 80% of the sun covered. Ditto for people in an arc from southern Virginia to southern Texas.

The slanted lines give the time. For example, along the line from New Jersey through upstate New York, the moon will cover the most sun at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings time (17:30 Universal Time). Likewise, Los Angeles will see the sun 80% covered at noon Eastern Daylight Savings time (9:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Savings time).

At no time, during this eclipse, should you look at the sun without the protective glasses for this is an annular eclipse. It is safe to look at the sun during totality of a total eclipse of the sun, but there won't be one of then in the United States until well into the next century.

North Americans may purchase additional safety glasses for $3.00 postpaid. Elsewhere the cost is $5.00. They'll be sent by airmail wherever possible. Even if the May 10 eclipse is not visible in your area, you may still want the glasses for future solar eclipses or solar events such as large sunspots, which can be seen with the naked eye.

Converted on 6 January 2005 by GDB