KGW answers your eclipse questions

Prepare for bad traffic on eclipse day

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Aug. 21 total solar eclipse is just days away and 1 million people are expected to flood Oregon for the event. 

We're hearing from KGW viewers with questions ranging from eclipse glasses to traffic and closures. We want to make sure you are fully prepared for the eclipse. 

What questions do you have? Our KGW staff is standing by to track down answers to your specific questions. Post your questions on Twitter, Facebook or in the form below. 

We will update this story with answers over the next few days. 

Question: Can I take a photo of the eclipse with my smartphone without a filter?

Answer: Most smartphones don't need special solar filters. iPhones and Galaxies are definitely safe. If your phone manufacturer has not put out documentation you may want to use a solar filter to be safe. Solar filters will also help you get a better photo of the eclipse, so the sun's rays don't blow out the photo. Another trick is to reduce exposure in your phone. Here are tips for shooting with your phone from the Telegraph. Another issue: smartphone shots are so wide that the eclipse might not look like much. Apple suggests doing something like a timelapse or shooting video instead. 

Question: What do I need to take a great photo with my camera? 

The best photos will be taken by people with zoom lenses. You will need a special filter for your lens. Scroll to the bottom of this AAS guide for approved solar filter lenses. Once you have the filter, practice taking pictures of the sun. 

More eclipse photo tips

Question: I have to work Monday afternoon/get to the airport/drive home, but I'm going to be in the path of totality for the eclipse. Will I make it home?

Answer: We can't say for sure. ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton suggests you leave right after the eclipse and plan for a very long drive to wherever you're going. You may want to consider alternate routes. You may not make it in time, so have a backup plan. 

Check your commute here with KGW traffic, and look at TripCheck

Question: What will the eclipse look like where I live?

Answer: The best way to find out exactly what the eclipse will look like is to use this interactive from NASA. Just put in your location and click play. 

NASA eclipse interactive

Question: Will my animals freak out?

Answer: They may be frightened or confused by the total eclipse. It may not be different than their reactions to fireworks or other loud noises, regardless of the fact that the eclipse is a silent event. Mother Nature Network suggests keeping pets leashed during totality just to be safe. 

Animals and the solar eclipse

Question: How bad will traffic be?

Transportation officials in Oregon and Washington are telling drivers to expect the worst. Traffic will likely be backed up, some for hours, especially on major roads headed toward the path of totality.

If you live in the path of totality, expect most roads, especially major roads, to be jam packed. 

If you have to drive near the path of totality or on major highways, plan for a much longer commute. If you can stay home, you may want to do that. 

Question: Will Portland get dark?

Answer: Portland is near the path of totality but will only see a 99 percent eclipse. That means Portland will get "twilight-y," according to KGW Meteorologist Matt Zaffino, but not completely dark. 

Question: Why do you show the eclipse going from west to east when the sun rises in the east?

Answer: Both the sun and the moon rise in the east, but the sun is faster than the moon. What will happen Monday is the moon will rise first, but the sun will catch up with it. So the eclipse will show the sun slowly moving behind the moon as it passes it from behind. 

Question: How long will the full duration of the eclipse last? 

Answer: The eclipse, from the start to finish, will last about two and a half hours, depending on where you are:

Lincoln City: 9:04 a.m. - 11:36 a.m. 

Salem: 9:05 a.m. - 11:37 a.m.

Madras: 9:06 a.m. - 11:40 a.m. 

Corvallis: 9:04 a.m. - 11:36 a.m.

Portland (not in totality) 9:06 a.m. - 11:38 a.m. 

Totality, where the moon fully covers the sun, will last about two minutes for those in the path of totality. 

More: The exact time the eclipse will be over your city

Question: How necessary are the eclipse glasses?

Answer: They are very necessary if you want to look at the eclipse when it is not in totality. You can permanently damage your vision if you stare at the sun without verified safe eclipse glasses. 

If you are in the path of totality, you can look at the eclipse unaided ONLY during the totality, which in Oregon specifically happens at these times: 

Lincoln City: 10:16 a.m. - 10:18 a.m. 

Salem: 10:17 a.m. - 10:19 a.m. 

Silverton: 10:17 a.m. - 10:19 a.m. 

Corvallis: 10:16 a.m. - 10:18 a.m.

Terrebonne: 10:19 a.m. - 10:21 a.m. 

Madras: 10:19 a.m. - 10:21 a.m. 

If you're looking for indirect ways to experience the eclipse, read American Astronomy Society spokesman Dr. Fienberg's suggestions here.

Question: Can I use X-ray film or regular sunglasses to view the eclipse? 

Answer: No. National Geographic says all of these options are dangerous. The only way to look at the eclipse directly is by using verified safe solar eclipse glasses or a number 14 welder's shield. 

Question: Can I look at the eclipse through a telescope?

Answer: You cannot look at the eclipse through a camera, telescope or binoculars without a special solar filter. Solar filters should be made specifically for sun viewing by an AAS-verified company (scroll to the bottom of the page in link for the list of solar filter companies). 

Do not use these solar filters as glasses. They are made to work with a lens only. 

There are some telescopes and binoculars made especially for solar viewing. An AAS verified list is here.

Question: Can I use a welding hood to look at the eclipse? 

Answer: According to NASA, a 14 rated welder's shield is sufficient.

Question: How will the eclipse affect those who have had cataract surgery that replaces the pupil with synthetic material?

Answer, from Dr. Lorne Yudcovitch, professor at Pacific University College of Optometry:

"People who have had cataract surgery usually have an artificial lens placed inside their eye that has replaced their natural lens. Because this artificial lens is clear, it allows much more light into the eye than their original natural lens. The clarity of this artificial lens is similar to the clarity of the natural human lens during childhood.

"Since children can safely view the eclipse through certified eclipse glasses from a reputable company (as long as the lenses are properly covering and shielding their eyes from the sun), adults who have had cataract surgery can do the same.

"P.S. - As a side-note, some artificial lenses used in cataract surgery come with extra ultraviolet (UV) protection, to mimic the adult natural lens. While this may be a nice added feature, it would likely not provide any significant additional protection from directly viewing the sun, which can damage the retina at wavelengths other than UV wavelengths. So the eclipse viewers should definitely still be used." 

Question: Where can I buy eclipse glasses? 

Answer: The bad news: Safe eclipse glasses are sold out of most retailers and libraries across the city have run out of nearly all glasses. The good news: OMSI is restocking. Check Thursday morning when OMSI opens at 9:30 a.m. 

More: Where to buy safe eclipse glasses

Question: I bought eclipse glasses from an unverified vendor. Is it safe to just wear two pairs of glasses?

Answer: No. 

Question: How can I watch the eclipse without eclipse glasses?

Answer: Dr. Rick Fienberg from AAS has the following suggestions for indirect eclipse viewing:

  • Look at the shadows of a leafy tree. Those spaces will project pinhole images of the sun. It makes a nice photograph.
  • Grab a spaghetti colander, take it outside. Look at the shadow of the spaghetti colander and you will see crescent projections from holes.
  • Grab an index card and punch a tiny hole with a sharp pencil, and grab piece of white paper. Take those outside and stand with your back to sun. Look at shadow of index card against the white paper and there will be crescent sun projected by the pinhole.

 

© 2017 KGW-TV


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