Solar eclipse will cover 90 percent of the sun in Bluefield

Mar. 30—By TARA WYATT

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Area residents may want to consider buying solar viewing glasses for the upcoming solar eclipse, which will be visible in Mercer County with 90% partial coverage around 3 p.m. on April 8.

Solar eclipses are a phenomenon when the moon passes between the sun and earth, preventing sunlight, but only in its path. This year the path for the total eclipse will move from the southwest to the northeast.

Partial solar eclipses usually occur between two to five years, but total solar eclipses happen every 18 months in different parts of the world. In the United States, however, total solar eclipses are usually in areas that are out of reach to others like in the ocean. So it is considered rare to experience a total eclipse here.

The next total solar eclipse path in 2026 will hit Iceland, Greenland, and Spain.

When a total solar eclipse occurs, the moon completely covers the sun; but when a partial solar eclipse occurs, the moon only covers parts of the sun. It all depends on the path and its percentage coverage.

The lower the percentage, the less the sun will be covered.

In Bluefield, about 90 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon on the afternoon of April 8.

According to Meteorologist Amanda Sava with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., Mercer County received total coverage during the 2017 eclipse, while this year's eclipse will reach 90 percent partial coverage in Bluefield.

Tazewell County Public Schools made the decision last week to have early dismissals before the solar eclipse occurs while Mercer County Public Schools have decided to continue on with classes.

Because of the area having a partial eclipse, some residents have decided to travel to see the total eclipse in places like Ohio, including Bluefield High School teacher Taylor Bulson.

"The reason why I am traveling on that Monday to go see it in Ohio is because it is going to be the last total eclipse in the US till 2044," Bulson said.

Although no local solar eclipse gatherings or events have been announced as of right now, Concord University's Astronomy department will be holding their own event in the Observatory at the university.

"We're really excited," Tulasi Subevi, a physics and astronomy professor at Concord, said. "Anyone can come watch at Concord at the observatory to look at the eclipse through the telescope."

Subevi encourages friends and families to watch the solar eclipse with the astronomy students.

When attending the event, residents should arrive an hour or two before the solar eclipse. Depending on how many people show up, there may be a maximum entry.

When watching the solar eclipse, glasses are a must. Directly looking at the eclipse without proper eye glasses can destroy or damage the retina in eyes causing temporary or even permanent blindness.

Convenience stores and department stores are selling glasses to those interested in watching the eclipse.

— Contact Tara Wyatt at twyatt@bdtonline.com