Five eclipse facts for the cheap and curious

Solar Eclipse Viewing Event

University of Iowa Pentacrest — Monday, Aug. 21 at 11 a.m.

The sun, the moon and the number 400

The sun’s diameter is 400 times larger than the moon’s, but the sun is also 400 times further away from the Earth than the moon is. That’s what allows the moon to block to the sun when the alignment is right.

It’s been a long time

The last total solar eclipse to span the entire continental United States happened 99 years ago.

Totality belongs to Farmer Woltermath

The eclipse’s path of totality barely grazes Iowa. Ivan Woltermath’s farm in the extreme southwestern corner of the state will experience about 30 seconds of totality. The rest of us will have to settle for an almost total eclipse.

Premade holes are better than pin-holes

Just because you’re too cheap to buy special glasses so you can look directly at the eclipse, doesn’t mean you have to experience it like a third-grader by poking a pin-hole into shoebox or piece of paper. The holes in the bottom of a metal colander or a piece of pegboard are perfect for projecting multiple moons obscuring multiple suns onto a white background.

Don’t wait till a total eclipse comes to you

The next total eclipse visible from Iowa will be June 16, 2178.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 226.

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