Experts talk Great American Eclipse

Experts talk Great American Eclipse
First Alert Meteorologist Chris Zelman remembers his first eclipse. (Source: WALB)
First Alert Meteorologist Chris Zelman remembers his first eclipse. (Source: WALB)
Special eye protection is required for looking directly at the eclipse. (Source: WALB)
Special eye protection is required for looking directly at the eclipse. (Source: WALB)

DOUGHERTY CO., GA (WALB) - In a few days from now, we might be in awe, as we try to hold in our memory of the visions we saw.

That's because the solar eclipse will be seen in many parts of the country.

"I could see it on my watch, eclipsing. I was on the bus and I watched it on my watch," recalled First Alert Meteorologist Chris Zelman.

Zelman said he saw an eclipse when he was a kid, although it was only a partial one.

Monday afternoon is anticipated to be an afternoon to remember.

"It's 90 percent eclipse here in most of South Georgia. Albany is right at 90 percent. It's a little higher north and a little less south," said Zelman.

If the weather plays out in our favor, Zelman said the skies will go dark and we will see something like this.

"You have 90 percent of the sun that is eclipsed by the moon," said Zelman. "Of course the moon getting between the sun and the earth."

Currently, Zelman predicts 60 to 80 percent cloud coverage, which wouldn't be great. But he's optimistic.

"Cloud forecasting is one the most difficult things to do. So even though that's what we say there could be a chance we could see better visibility," said Zelman.

Folks throughout South Georgia have been preparing for the event.

The Wetherbee Planetarium and the Thronateeska Heritage Museum have dedicated the whole month to it. Saturday, they'll be helping folks make pinhole projectors. 

In the past few weeks, students have learned the science and eye doctors have discussed the safety.

Many of our schools are even staying open late. They're taking full advantage of the phenomenon.

"We're excited that our students will get this opportunity because it is rare that we even have a partial eclipse this close to us happening," said Dougherty County School Spokesperson J.D. Sumner.

So now's the time to free your schedules, set your alarms and prepare for a twilight feeling Monday afternoon.

"Probably between 2:30 and 2:50 you will feel that change most abruptly," said Zelman.

No matter the weather, the eclipse will do damage to your eyes if you aren't properly protected.


WALB hosted Dr. J. Ellis Cosby, an Optometrist in Albany, and  Dougherty County School System's District Elementary Science Coordinator Michelle Bergozza for a special Question and Answer session on Facebook.

Here are some of the questions they answered:

  1. What is an eclipse? A solar eclipse is a natural event when the moon passes between the earth and the sun.  When the moon orbits the earth, it lines up directly between the sun and the earth. The moon blocks the light from the sun and this is a solar eclipse. - Bergozza

  2. Why shouldn't you look directly at the sun? The sun is the strongest form of energy in our solar system. Directly looking at the sun can permanently damage your retina. - Cosby

  3. What should you do if you want to take pictures with your phone or your nice camera? I wouldn't advise looking at the sun while trying to focus your camera. - Cosby

  4. Should people not be driving at the time of the eclipse?  It is fine to drive, just remember to keep your eyes on the road and not on the sun. - Bergozza | No more dangerous than any other time. Make sure your headlights are on. - Cosby.

  5. What if it is cloudy? Can I still stare at the sun? If it is cloudy, you will still experience qualities of the eclipse, such as darkness. You may not be able to see the stars and planets that you would be able to see if it were clear during the eclipse. You should still use your eclipse glasses to look at the sun on the day of the eclipse. - Bergozza

  6. What to do and what not to do with your eclipse glasses? In our area, there will only be a partial eclipse. Therefore will no time during viewing when it is safe to remove your eclipse glasses.

  7. What do you need to know about the REAL eclipse glasses? They have to be ISO approved. Watch out for fakes.

  8. If you can't travel to see the eclipse at the 100% point... what will the eclipse look like here in Southwest Georgia? About 90 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon from our area's perspective, leaving a small sliver of light. - First Alert Chief Meteorologist Yolanda Amadeo

  9. Still too scared to stare at the sun? What are alternative ways you can view the eclipse? (think pin hole and paper) Make pin hole viewer. You can Google this and get many ideas for directions. - Bergozza | Best way is to watch it on TV or on one of the live streams online. - Cosby.

  10. If I think I may have damaged my eyes, what are signs I need to look for? Blurred central vision or dark spots in your vision. - Cosby.

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