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How to watch the partial eclipse and not ruin your eyes

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Posted at 1:33 PM, Oct 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-23 14:34:26-04

Late in the afternoon on Thursday, you have the chance to see a partial solar eclipse move over our area. That is, as long as the clouds clear out in time. A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and the moon blocks our view of the sun. In Thursday's instance, it's only a partial eclipse because the moon will not fully pass in front of the sun.

For the Kansas City region, the eclipse will begin at about 4:36 p.m. The maximum eclipse is set for about 5:45 p.m. The sun will drop below the horizon at 6:27 p.m., and this will limit us from seeing the rest of the event.

If you are wanting to take in this unique cosmic sight, there are a few safety tips to remember so you don't lose your own sight. First: NEVER look directly at the sun. While you cannot feel any pain by doing so, the UV rays can burn your eyes, much like a sunburn on your skin. It may not hurt at first, but over time you'll feel the effects.

So how can someone admire the passing of these astronomical bodies without looking right at the sun itself? One way involves a few basic supplies which are probably already sitting in your home.

PINHOLE PROJECTOR
This one is the easiest method. All you need is two sheets of paper and something like a thumbtack to poke a hole in one of the sheets of paper.

What you do is lay one sheet of paper on the ground or a table. Next, use the second sheet and poke a hole in the center of the sheet. Then, with your back to the sun, hold the paper with the hole up above your head so the light from the hole hits the first piece of paper you laid down.

As the eclipse begins, you'll see the circular hole (which looks like the sun) take on a crescent shape as the moon passes in front of the sun. Pretty cool!

WATCH ONLINE
Thanks to high-speed Internet, you can watch an eclipse safely from the comfort of your couch. The Slooh Observatory will be hosting a live feed of the eclipse, as captured from various eclipse-ready telescopes across the country. You can watch their live stream by clicking this link.

WELDING MASK
Check with a local hardware store and find a welder's mask with safety glass rated 14 or better. This will ensure that your eyes are properly shielded from the sun's damaging rays. Again, double check the glass in the mask is rated 14 or higher or you risk damage to your eyes.

Do not look directly at the sun without proper eyewear. Sunglasses DO NOT count, as these are not designed to protect your eyes from the sun's radiation for a long period of time.

In case you are curious, Kansas City will get to witness a full solar eclipse coming up on Aug. 21, 2017. Set a reminder now!