Eclipse racing the clouds in Carbondale

In Carbondale, Ill., clear skies became dappled with towering cumulous clouds as the moon took its first bite of the sun at 11:52 a.m. CDT.

With a heat index of 105 degrees, most people would probably welcome the shade, but not today. All morning, discussion of the forecast was heard everywhere, and who was predicting what; Weather Channel versus the National Weather Service versus the astronomical forecast.

Steve Rogers of Venice, Fla., steps away from his telescope following a brief glimpse of totality of today’s solar eclipse on the campus of Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., on Monday, August 21, 2017. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

They have traveled from across the seas and down the street to the Salulki stadium. Carbondale is where the eclipse will have the longest totality in the nation, and people do not want to be disappointed.

With 10 minutes before totality, a fat sad cumulous cloud parked overhead, in front of the sun and refused to move.

People screamed, “Go away! Dear God, go away!”

And then a cheer erupted from outside the stadium where the cloud had parted enough to catch the last few seconds before totality. People stalked toward the clear piece of sky, and were rewarded with the last sliver of sun before another cloud interrupted.

The announcer called that totality had begun, but the sun was gone. It got dark out, so dark a star, I think it was Venus, appeared on the horizon.

And then, just when people seemed resigned that they would not see totality, the cloud moved ever so slightly and a brilliant white halo appeared around a black hole in the sky. It glowed like magic and people stared with their naked eyes for at least 30 seconds before the speaker announced totality was over and everyone put their glasses back on.

“We really wanted to be where people were getting into it,” said Ellen Gertzog, 66, who traveled from Rochester, N.Y. “The next one comes over Rochester, but at our age we are always aware that there may not be a next time so we wanted to take advantage of this.”

The 15,000-student Saluki stadium sold out for the event, and although people trickled in early, it was full by 12:40 p.m.

Those waiting in line were greeted by a paraded of Saluki cheerleaders, a troupe of Star Wars reenactors in full regalia, and the promise of a Michael Jackson medley.

Totality begins at 1:20 p.m. CDT.

“Knowing that there is a universe out there much bigger than us seems like enough of a show,” said Kathy Mills, of Batavia, Ill.

Internet service is spotty and emails are not going through for everyone. I’m headed outside to experience this. It’s halfway to totality, about.

» RELATED: How Palm Beach County watched the eclipse

Two years of eclipse science hinges on forecast, and it’s looking iffy

The skies over Carbondale, Ill., clouded up Sunday afternoon like a thick dessert whip above a town praying for blue overhead.

At 1:21 p.m. Monday, totality reaches this southern Illinois town – a viewing station for NASA, and host to the NASA EDGE live broadcast. It will go dark for two minutes, 40 seconds, which is the longest time for totality in the nation.

While scientists stressed Sunday that darkness will still descend, between 50,000 and 90,000 in people in Carbondale are expecting to see the moon slide in front of the sun, watch the diamond ring appear as the last of the rays are covered, and stare, sans glasses for a moment, at the ethereal corona during totality.

Related: What South Florida will see during the eclipse.

“This eclipse is very important for us Americans because it’s been 38 years since the one in 79′ and it has faded from the consciousness of people,” said Mike Kentrianakis, a member of the American Astronomical Society, who is also in Carbondale. “This is grand, because it’s available to almost anyone within driving distance of the line coast to coast.”

Eclipse glasses are piled on a table at a “dark site” for telescopes at Southern Illinois University. (Thomas Cordy / Palm Beach Post)

The forecast for Carbondale is sketchy. A “decent” amount of rain is expected Monday night into Tuesday morning, according to forecasters at the Paducah, K.Y., office of the National Weather Service. But there’s daytime heating, that could also trigger storms earlier in the day.

Heat index temperatures are forecast to top 100 degrees.

For Chris Mandrell, the eclipse is not just a cosmic fancy to behold, he’s been working on a project with NASA for two years that lined up 68 telescopes from Oregon to South Carolina to get a continuous 90-minute stream of images from the inner corona.

“This is like a meteorologist being able to see inside a tornado,” said Mandrell, a graduate assistant in Southern Illinois University’s physics department. “We can’t see the inner corona with anything we have today until a total eclipse.”

Chris Mandrell, Southern Illinois graduate assistant in the physics department is a Citizen CATE volunteer and will be involved in a multi-site effort to capture images of the total solar eclipse. Mandrell is setup at a dark site outside of Carbondale, Ill., that will be freer of light pollution to capture images during totality. Photographed on Sunday, August 20, 2017. From the National Solar Observatory website: The Citizen CATE (Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse) Experiment aims to capture images of the inner solar corona using a network of more than 60 telescopes operated by citizen scientists, high school groups and universities. CATE is currently a joint project involving volunteers from more than 20 high schools, 20 universities, informal education groups, astronomy clubs across the country, 5 national science research labs and 5 corporate sponsors. The goal of CATE is to produce a scientifically unique data set: high-resolution, rapid cadence white light images of the inner corona for 90 minutes. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

The project, called Continental America Telescopic Eclipse, or “Citizen CATE”, is using volunteer scientists from across the U.S. to help with the imagery. It is important to learn more about the corona because of its magnetic field and how that can affect communications systems, said Bob Baer, a physics professor at SIU and co-chairman of the school’s eclipse steering committee.

“We live in an amazing time but we still don’t know how the sun operates,” said Lou Mayo, a planetary scientist and astronomy professor at Marymount University, who is in Carbondale for the eclipse.

Mandrell’s experiment is set away from town in a “dark site” between a cornfield and rows of soybeans.

The university poured concrete slabs for telescopes and Mandrell is camping at the site to keep an eye on the equipment.

On Sunday, with clouds materializing overhead, he said he stopped watching the forecast two days ago.

“I’ll be performing a no-rain dance later,” he said. “The eclipse is going to make people stoop and think, ‘That’s a star out there, and that’s pretty neat.'”

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Mandel Library is out of solar eclipse glasses

Update 2 p.m.: The Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach is out of solar eclipse glasses.

The library had 5,000 it began giving away Tuesday morning, and had 1,000 left this morning.

Those have since been distributed.

Previous story: The Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach is reporting it still has 1,000 solar eclipse glasses to give away, but they will likely go fast.

The library opens at 9:30 this morning.

Adults with a West Palm Beach library card can get two pairs of eclipse glasses, which have become hard to find as the Monday event approaches.

On Tuesday, the library gave away 4,000 pairs of glasses with people waiting in line as the library opened.

Related: How Floridians can watch the Aug. 21 solar eclipse.

Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach gave out free verified solar eclipse glasses to library cardholders Tuesday, August 15, 2017. About four dozen people were lined up for the glasses when the library’s doors opened at 9:30am; by 10am, “several hundred showed up, ” according to the library’s adult services manager Marsha Warfield. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

The library got the glasses through a program by The National Center for Interactive Learning at the Space Science Institute. It was initially put on a waitlist, but when more glasses came in, the center immediately shipped them out.

Amazon began recalling eclipse glasses during the weekend, informing customers that the eyewear might not meet the safety standards to block out harmful solar rays. South Florida will see a partial eclipse with 80 percent of the sun covered by the moon, meaning glasses are necessary when viewing the entire event.

Related: Best places to watch the Great American eclipse.

A spokeswoman for Amazon said the company is not releasing a list of companies whose glasses are being recalled because there are legitimate versions of the glasses under the same names.

Dave D’Addario of West Palm Beach tries on a free pair of solar eclipse glasses at Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach Tuesday, August 15, 2017. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

“Out of an abundance of caution and in the interests of our customers, we asked third-party sellers that were offering solar eclipse glasses to provide documentation to verify their products were compliant with relative safety standards,” Amazon said in a statement. “The listings from sellers who did not provide the appropriate documentation have been removed and customers who purchased from them were notified.”

The American Astronomical Society said earlier this month that counterfeit eclipse glasses were “flooding the market” with products that might cause eye damage.

The AAS previously advised people to look for evidence that the glasses comply with international safety standards for filters of direct viewing of the sun by ensuring the following was printed on the glasses: ISO 12312-2.

The American Astronomical Society says it is no longer enough to check for ISO certification on eclipse glasses. Make sure they come from a reputable vendor also.

Regular sun glasses are not enough to keep out the harmful rays of the sun.

“What you absolutely should not do is search for eclipse glasses on the Internet and buy whatever pops up in the ads or search results,” AAS said.

AAS is now suggesting people ensure their glasses are ISO certified and come from reputable vendors that it has verified and listed on its website.

“The glasses are worth their weight in gold right now,” said Susan Barnett, director of the Buehler Planetarium and Observatory. “I wish Amazon had checked the validity earlier.”

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Free eclipse glasses at Mandel Public Library in West Palm Beach

Update 4:15 p.m.: Mandel Public Library has 5,000 pairs of eclipse glasses it will begin giving away Tuesday to library cardholders.

Adult library cardholders can receive up to two pairs of eclipse glasses during regular library hours. Glasses are first come, first served.

Because of limited supplies, no classes or groups will receive glasses.

Those interested in becoming library cardholders can call the Mandel Public Library at 561-868-7700 or sign up at www.wpbcitylibrary.org.

Update 12:50 p.m.:  With Amazon recalling an unknown number of questionable eclipse glasses for safety reasons, people are clamoring to buy the protective eye wear for next week’s historic event.

But finding glasses in Palm Beach County stores is proving difficult. Calls to Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart and Target were unsuccessful in locating the glasses that are necessary to see the eclipse without hurting your eyes.

“We’ve seen very strong demand because of the tremendous interest in this event, and continue to receive many calls from customers looking for the glasses,” said Steve Salazar, a spokesman for Lowes.

Salazar said he couldn’t find any remaining glasses in South Florida Lowes stores.

But some places holding Aug. 21 eclipse-day events will have glasses available:

“The glasses are worth their weight in gold right now,” said Susan Barnett, director of the Buehler Planetarium and Observatory. “I wish Amazon had checked the validity earlier.”

What the eclipse will look like from West Palm Beach, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

Ardis Sperberg, 80, of Boynton Beach, said the Aug. 21 eclipse may be her last opportunity to see the celestial mechanics at work in such grand fashion.

She spent time this week calling home improvement stores, Target, Walmart and even tried a prescription eyeglasses store.

“I figure this is my last chance,” she said. “I’ve seen partial eclipses long ago, but not anything as important as what is going across the U.S. this time.”

Previous story: Amazon is recalling questionable eclipse glasses after asking third party vendors to prove their glasses were compliant with relevant safety standards.

A spokeswoman for Amazon said the company is not releasing a list of company names that are being recalled because there are legitimate versions of glasses under the same names.

“There’s already been confusion on this point,” the spokeswoman said.

Here is Amazon’s statement:

“Out of an abundance of caution and in the interests of our customers, we asked third-party sellers that were offering solar eclipse glasses to provide documentation to verify their products were compliant with relevant safety standards. The offers from sellers who provided this safety documentation remain available to customers. The listings from sellers who did not provide the appropriate documentation have been removed and customers who purchased from them were notified last week. Customers can contact Amazon customer service with any questions or concerns.”

Related: Best places to watch the Great American eclipse.

The American Astronomical Society last week that counterfeit eclipse glasses were “flooding the market” with product that may cause eye damage. 

The AAS previously advised people to look for evidence that the glasses comply with international safety standards for filters of direct viewing of the sun by ensuring the following was printed on the glasses: ISO 12312-2.

The American Astronomical Society says it is no longer enough to check for ISO certification on eclipse glasses. Make sure they come from a reputable vendor also.

Related: Your eyes will fry under normal sunglasses during eclipse. 

Regular sun glasses are not enough to keep out the harmful rays of the sun.

“What you absolutely should not do is search for eclipse glasses on the internet and buy whatever pops up in the ads or search results,” AAS said.

AAS is now suggesting people ensure their glasses are ISO certified and come from reputable vendors that it has verified and listed on its website.   

You cannot check yourself to see if your eclipse glasses are safe. But there are signs they are NOT safe.

  • You should not be able to see anything through the lenses except the sun itself, or something comparably bright, such as sun reflected in a mirror.
  • If you glance at the sun through your glasses and it is uncomfortably bright, the glasses are no good.

One week to historic eclipse, how to take the best photos

Smartphones will no doubt be aimed at the heavens Aug. 21 in earnest attempts to capture the first total solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. coast-to-coast in 99 years.

But like the fuzzy photos of glowing orbs that flood social media the day after a full moon, a solar eclipse, even of grand proportion, can be an elusive capture for a plucky, but tiny, smartphone camera.

Related: Best places to see the 2017 solar eclipse and why it’s all about the weather.

“The good news is you are not going to burn your camera up by taking a picture of the eclipse,” said Andrew Symes, an astrophotographer who Apple is referencing for questions about taking smartphone pictures of the eclipse. “The bad news is you are probably not going to get a good photo by just holding the phone up and snapping a picture.”

Symes, of Ottawa, Canada, started using an iPhone 4S in 2011 to take photos of the night sky. He has captured Jupiter and its moons, Saturn, the sun and even Mercury — the smallest planet in the solar system.

His pictures are captured through the lens of a telescope, but he has a few tips on taking pictures of this month’s historic eclipse with a naked smartphone sans telescope.

While a solar filter isn’t necessary to photograph the eclipse with a smartphone, it will make for a better picture than just pointing the phone at the sun to create an “overexposed, yellowish blob,” Symes said.

Related: Check your eclipse forecast.

“If you hold eclipse glasses over the iPhone camera lens, that will dim the sun enough that it actually does look like a very small circle and you should be able to see the darkness of the moon as it crosses in front of it,” Symes said. “Don’t zoom in. You can crop the image later.”

Andrew Symes took this photo of the sun with eclipse glasses in front of the lens of his smartphone.

It’s also important to lock the focus by touching the image of the sun on the phone’s screen and holding it a second.

For people using telephoto adapters with their smartphone, Symes recommends using a solar filter or risk damaging the camera. Also, anyone using a telescope to take a picture of the eclipse needs a special solar filter.

“You need to block out all that light before it gets to your telescope or you could literally burn your eyes, Symes said.

For many people, the Aug. 21 eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The last total solar eclipse in the United States was in 1979, and it only went through a handful of states in the Northwest.

Related: Fake solar eclipse glasses flood market, could damage eyes

This month’s eclipse will pass through 14 states, cutting a path of darkness 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina.

About 12 million people live in that so-called “path of totality” where day will turn to night for more than two minutes.

Another estimated 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the path of totality, according to Martin Knopp, associate administrator of the Office of Operations in the Federal Highway Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“There are 20 interstates in the direct path,” Knopp said. “We don’t really know how many people might be out there driving around, jockeying for a good position. But be careful, buckle up, put the cellphone in the glove box.”

For people in the path of totality, the only time it is safe to take off your eclipse glasses is when the moon fully covers the sun and just the glowing halo, or corona, of the sun can be seen. This is also the time to take smartphone photos without a solar filter or from behind eclipse glasses.

For those not in the path of totality, it is never safe to look at the eclipse without eclipse glasses.

Related: What South Florida will see during the Aug. 21 eclipse. 

“You only have two-and-a-half minutes or less to take photos of the eclipse, but don’t forget to take some photos of the surroundings, what people are doing,” said Sten Odenwald, a NASA scientist who wrote a 12-page article on photographing the eclipse.

In South Florida, about 80 percent of the sun will be obscured by the moon. In Palm Beach County, the eclipse will begin at 1:25 p.m., peak at 2:57 p.m., and end at 4:19 p.m.

Symes said his top tip for the eclipse is not to spend the whole event fumbling with a smartphone.

“I want to make sure people enjoy it with their eyes first before they start fooling around with the camera,” he said.  “Drink in the whole experience, make sure you see everything around you, and think of the photo as a nice bonus.”
If you haven’t yet, join Kim on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

 

Think you’ll catch the eclipse with your smartphone? Think twice

Smartphones will no doubt be aimed at the heavens on Aug. 21 in earnest attempts to capture the first total solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. coast-to-coast in 99 years.

But like the fuzzy photos of glowing orbs that flood social media the day after a full moon, a solar eclipse, even of grand proportion, can be an elusive capture for a plucky but tiny smartphone camera.

“The good news is you are not going to burn your camera up by taking a picture of the eclipse,” said Andrew Symes, an astrophotographer who Apple is referencing for questions about taking smartphone pictures of the eclipse. “The bad news is you are probably not going to get a good photo by just holding the phone up and snapping a picture.”

Andrew Symes took this photo of the sun with eclipse glasses in front of the lens of his smartphone.

Symes, of Ottaway, Canada, started using an iPhone 4S in 2011 to take photos of the night sky. He has captured Jupiter and its moons, Saturn, the sun and even Mercury – the smallest planet in the solar system.

Related: Best places to see the 2017 solar eclipse and why it’s all about the weather.

His pictures are captured through the lens of a telescope, but he has a few tips on taking pictures of this month’s historic eclipse with a naked smartphone sans telescope.

While a solar filter isn’t necessary to photograph the eclipse with a smartphone, it will make for a better picture than just pointing the phone at the sun to create an “overexposed, yellowish blob,” Symes said.

“If you hold eclipse glasses over the iPhone camera lens, that will dim the sun enough that it actually does look like a very small circle and you should be able to see the darkness of the moon as it crosses in front of it,” Symes said. “Don’t zoom in. You can crop the image later.”

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

It’s also important to lock the focus by touching the image of the sun on the phone’s screen and holding it a second.

For people using telephoto adapters with their smartphone, Symes recommends using a solar filter or risk damaging the camera. Also, anyone using a telescope to take a picture of the eclipse needs a special solar filter.

“You need to block out all that light before it gets to your telescope or you could literally burn your eyes, Symes said.

Related: Check your eclipse forecast.

For many people, the Aug. 21 eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The last total solar eclipse in the U.S. was in 1979, and it only went through a handful of states in the northwest.

This month’s eclipse will pass through 14 states, cutting a path of darkness 70-miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina. About 12 million people live in that so-called “path of totality” where day will turn to night for more than two minutes.

Another estimated 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the path of totality, according to Martin Knopp, associate administrator of the Office of Operations in the Federal Highway Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“There are 20 interstates in the direct path,” Knopp said. “We don’t really know how many people might be out there driving around, jockeying for a good position. But be careful, buckle up, put the cell phone in the glove box.”

Download the Palm Beach Post WeatherPlus app here.

For people in the path of totality, the only time it is safe to take off your eclipse glasses is when the moon fully covers the sun and just the glowing halo, or corona, of the sun can be seen. This is also the time to take smartphone photos without a solar filter or from behind eclipse glasses.

For those not in the path of totality, it is never safe to look at the eclipse without eclipse glasses.

A solar filter for use with cameras.

“You only have two-and-a-half minutes or less to take photos of the eclipse, but don’t forget to take some photos of the surroundings, what people are doing,” said Sten Odenwald, a NASA scientist who wrote a 12-page article on photographing the eclipse. “This will require low light level photography on your smartphone.”

In South Florida, about 80 percent of the sun will be obscured by the moon. In Palm Beach County, the eclipse will begin at 1:25 p.m., peak at 2:57 p.m., and end at 4:19 p.m.

Symes said his top tip for the eclipse is not to spend the whole event fumbling with a smartphone.

From Sten Odenwald’s paper on how to photograph the eclipse.

“I want to make sure people enjoy it with their eyes first before they start fooling around with the camera,” he said. “Drink in the whole experience, make sure you see everything around you, and thing of the photo as a nice bonus.”

For information on using a traditional camera, see this post from Mr.Eclipse.com, where it says a special solar filter is a necessity. 

Here are a few tips from Odenwald and the American Astronomical Society on how to take a picture of the eclipse with your smartphone:

  • Get a solar filter, or use eclipse glasses in front of the lens.
  • Practice photographing the full moon to get an idea of how large the sun-in-eclipse will appear with your smartphone’s lens.
  • Don’t count on your auto-focus. You have to focus manually by touching the screen and holding your finger where you want it to lock focus. Then slide your finger up or down to darken or lighten the exposure.
  • Rather than trying to photograph the eclipse itself, concentrate on what people around you are doing. Take a time-lapse photo series of the scenery as the light dims with the smartphone secured on a tripod or other mounting so that you can watch the eclipse while your camera photographs the scenery.
  • Digital zoom will not work to create a magnified, clear image. Instead, buy a $20 to $40 zoom lens attachment.
  • Use a tripod, especially if you have a zoom lens attached.
  • Make sure the flash is turned off.

The following are tips shared by Apple of astrophotographer Andrew Symes, who has been observing and photographing the night sky from Ottawa, Canada, for 20 years.

A pioneer in smartphone astrophotography, Andrew has been using his iPhone to capture close up views of the sun, moon, planets, and brightest deep sky objects through his telescopes since 2011.

Not using a telescope

– Try to get a pair of eclipse glasses — libraries frequently give them out for free in instances such as this.

– Put the eclipse glasses in front of your iPhone camera lens.

– Tap to lock focus and adjust exposure up or down.

– Take your photo using the native Camera app, but do not zoom in. You can zoom in and crop the image after the fact without degrading the photo quality.

Using a telescope

– Get a solar filter that goes on the front of your telescope, otherwise it could blind you or damage the telescope itself. Prices range from $50 to several hundred dollars, though there are some homemade ways to make one too. This will dim the sun’s light to make it safe, and also allow you to get a nice photo.

– Attach iPhone to your telescope’s eye piece.

– Adjust the focus on your telescope, then using the native Camera app, tap to lock the focus on your image.

– Also tap to adjust exposure up or down depending on the light coming through.

– Tap to shoot your image as the moon approaches and crosses in front of the sun.

– Pro tip: Use burst mode with a 3 second delay set so your iPhone and telescope don’t accidentally shake when you press the shutter button.

iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus Photography Tips for the Solar Eclipse
iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are packed with new features that make them even better for capturing low-light/night photos and videos.

Optical image stabilization (now on both iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus) 
Optical image stabilization automatically kicks in to help you cancel out jittery hands; a combination of this, a f1.8 aperture and six element lens makes iPhone even better for shooting both photos and videos in the low light environment of the eclipse.

Pro tip: Did you know you can use Apple Watch as a remote shutter? Open the camera remote app on your Apple Watch, then use its viewscreen to help position your iPhone on a tripod or anywhere you’d like to get the perfect shot.

Exposure control Comes in handy when you need to adjust brightness when capturing the eclipse. Use the smart slider to adjust brightness in the preview pane with a simple slide, up to four f-stops in either direction to find just the right lighting for your photo. Lock focus and exposure before shooting by pressing and holding anywhere you want on the image so you don’t lose focus on your composition.

Panorama Use to capture the whole scene. Dynamic auto exposure adjusts as you shoot to capture your most epic shots with incredible clarity. Just tap the shutter button them move iPhone 7 in the direction of the arrow on the lefthand side in the Camera app to take the panorama from left to right. Pro tip: Place on a tripod that allows you to pivot the phone, and consider taking vertical panoramas to get a different perspective!

Video Try capturing the eclipse in video mode. Want to take a picture while you are recording? Grab it by tapping the white circle to the left of your record button. Pro tip: you can also use the volume button on your EarPods to take a photo.

Apps for editing your photos/videos
Camera + ($2.99)
Known for offering iPhone photographers advanced manual controls such as setting exposure separately from focus, adjusting shutter speed and ISO settings for long exposures. Camera + also added 3D Touch capabilities, and more control over the dual lenses in iPhone 7 Plus.

NightCap camera ($1.99)
This app helps you take low light and night photos, videos and 4K time lapse. Long exposure produces beautiful photos in low light. Try Long Exposure mode for amazing motion blur effects and reduced image noise in low light. Has an IOS Boost feature that allows 4x higher ISO than any other app.

VSCO (Free)
VSCO offers film-inspired filters and professional image tools to edit, share and discover top-quality photos. VSCO also functions as a digital community for millions of creatives around the world to share and find photos without the likes, comments, or public followers of a traditional social platform.

Adobe Lightroom (Free)
Adobe Lightroom allows you to access many of the same features of Adobe Photoshop with an easy and accessible mobile app. It provides the greatest amount of photo editing flexibility and control, with tools ranging from simple one-tap presets to powerful advanced adjustments and corrections.

Polarr (Free)
Polarr offers advanced auto-enhance tools and filters to help make photos brighter, clearer and crisper. Its features include customizable filters, toolbars and workspace, as well as dehaze and denoise tools, multiple local and brush adjustments, and several other photo-enhancing tools.

Priime (Free)
Priime allows you to edit photos with filters created from the style of the world’s top photographers. It also enables you to publish your high resolution photos on Prime Collections for friends to follow and enjoy on both the app and the web.

Hipstamatic ($2.99)

Hipstamatic lets you shoot advanced photos with a variety of different lenses, flashes, and films. It also includes a darkroom editing suite with more than 20 professional adjustment tools, including clarity and definition, and 12 signature presets for instant editing.

Fake eclipse glasses ‘flooding’ market, astronomy group says

People nationwide are rushing to buy eclipse glasses with just two weeks left before the historic Aug. 21 event. 

But buyer beware.

The American Astronomical Society is warning on its website that the market is being “flooded with counterfeit eclipse glasses.”

The AAS previously advised people to look for evidence that the glasses comply with international safety standards for filters of direct viewing of the sun by ensuring the following was printed on the glasses: ISO 12312-2.

Related: Best places to watch the Great American eclipse.

“But now the marketplace is being flooded by counterfeit eclipse glasses that are labeled as if they’re ISO-compliant when in fact they are not,” AAS said.  “Even more unfortunately, unscrupulous vendors can grab the ISO logo off the internet and put it on their products and packaging even if their eclipse glasses or viewers haven’t been properly tested.”

The American Astronomical Society says it is no longer enough to check for ISO certification on eclipse glasses. Make sure they come from a reputable vendor also.

You cannot watch the eclipse  – the first in 99 years to cross the entire U.S. – without special glasses or you can do irreversible damage to your eyes, including going blind. Although the sun is no brighter during an eclipse than on a regular day, it is more comfortable to look at, meaning you can stare at it longer and damage your eyes.

Related: Your eyes will fry under normal sunglasses during eclipse. 

Regular sun glasses are not enough to keep out the harmful rays of the sun.

“What you absolutely should not do is search for eclipse glasses on the internet and buy whatever pops up in the ads or search results,” AAS said.

AAS is now suggesting people ensure their glasses are ISO certified and come from reputable vendors that it has verified and listed on its website.   

The manufacturers listed are ones the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force has had previous experience with “as well as companies whose products have been certified safe by authorities we recognize and whose certification we have confirmed to be genuine.”

NASA also recommends the glasses not be used if they are older than three years or are scratched.

“The problem with fakes is that you can’t know if they’re letting unsafe levels of solar ultraviolet and/or infrared radiation into your eyes,” said Richard Tresch Fienberg, a press officer with AAS.  “You’d never know until it’s too late, because our retinas don’t have pain receptors.”

The total solar eclipse of 2016 reaches totality in this still image from a NASA webcast on March 8, 2016 from Woleai Island in Micronesia, where it was March 9 local time during the eclipse. – See more at: http://www.space.com/32198-total-solar-eclipse-2016-pictures.html#sthash.iCglzL3j.dpuf

I bought several pairs of glasses from different vendors on Amazon before checking the approved list. I didn’t realize one set was not on the list. The company’s Amazon site is no longer working and neither is its Facebook page. The brand is Cosmos Eclipse Glasses by POGO Industrial CO. I’m trying to reach the company.

Fienberg said he has not heard of the brand.

“I bought some counterfeits in a New Hampshire country store yesterday,” Fienberg said this morning. “They’re printed almost the same as real ones from American Paper Optics, but there are numerous telltale signs that they’re fake.”

American Paper Optics glasses have rectangular lenses with metal on one side.

You cannot check yourself to see if your eclipse glasses are safe. But there are signs they are NOT safe.

  • You should not be able to see anything through the lenses except the sun itself, or something comparably bright, such as sun reflected in a mirror.
  • If you glance at the sun through your glasses and it is uncomfortably bright, the glasses are no good.

 

How Floridians can watch the Aug. 21 solar eclipse

On Monday, Aug. 21, all of North America will be treated to a solar eclipse – the first to travel coast-to-coast in the U.S. in 99 years.

Florida is not in the path of totality, where the moon will completely overtake the sun and complete darkness will reign for more than two minutes.

But the path of totality is within a day’s drive.

South Carolina offers the closest path of totality viewing opportunities to Florida, with Charleston being the last major city in the U.S. to witness the eclipse beginning at about 3:15 p.m.

Path of the eclipse through South Carolina, NASA.

Official viewing sites in the path of totality nationwide can be found here.

The closest area along Interstate 95 to Florida in the eclipse path intersects with highway 61, or Augusta Highway in South Carolina.

To the southeast is Colleton State Park, which is not listed as having an organized viewing event, but it’s likely people will head there on their own. See South Carolina’s official park eclipse event list here.

“If you can possibly get into the eclipse path, take the family, take the kids, it will be one of the most amazing natural phenomenon you will ever see,” said Fred Espenak, a retired NASA astrophysicist who has traveled to see 27 solar eclipses.

The total solar eclipse of 2016 reaches totality in this still image from a NASA webcast on March 8, 2016 from Woleai Island in Micronesia.

From Jacksonville, Charleston is about a 240 mile drive.

From Palm Beach County, it’s closer to 520 miles, or nearly 8 hours.

With most hotels anywhere near the 70-mile wide path of totality booked up long in advance, that kind of travel for a day-trip may not be possible from South Florida.

Don’t despair.

Eclipse experts said even though Florida won’t go completely dark, the eclipse will still be an event to remember.

Related: Upcoming total solar eclipse stirs fears of apocalypse.

About 80 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon in South Florida. To see what the eclipse will look like from anywhere in the world, check out this website. 

You will need special solar eclipse glasses to view the eclipse safely whether you are in the path of totality or seeing just a partial eclipse.

“Eighty percent is a lot. It’s going to be pretty awesome,” said Ivona Cetinic, a scientist with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “It will be like a late dusk, but there are other things cool to see.”

Cetinic said shadows cast by leaves will reflect the moon’s bite taken out of the sun.

“It’s a beautiful and rare opportunity to be an observer of something like this,” she said.

What the eclipse will look like from West Palm Beach where 80 percent of the sun will be covered, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

In Florida, clouds are going to be a concern. Some areas in the state have a better chance of being cloud-free, such as Jacksonville, Key West and Pensacola.

Because the eclipse is during the day – peaking at about 3 p.m. in West Palm Beach – it makes no difference if you are in an area with low light pollution or not, Cetinic said.

Related: Check your eclipse forecast.

But she recommends getting away from tall buildings that could obstruct the view of the sun. Instead, head to a park or the beach.

“Just try to get to an open space,” she said. “As long as you aren’t blocked by a skyscraper it should be quite a show.”

If all else fails, there are multiple webcasts planned of the event.

Some South Florida eclipse events:

Some Aug. 21 eclipse events in South Florida:

• South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach. Requested RSVP, (561) 832-1988 or go to www.sfsciencecenter.org.

• Lake Park Public Library, 1 p.m., 529 Park Ave., Lake Park. Call 561-881-3330 or go to www.lakepark-fl.gov.

• Boynton Beach City Library, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. 208 S. Seacrest Blvd., Boynton Beach. Call 561-742-6390 or go to www.boyntonlibrary.org.

• Boca Raton Sugar Sand Park, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton. Call 561-347-3900, or go to www.scienceexplorium.org.

• Oxbow Eco-Center, 5400 NE St. James Drive, Port St. Lucie. Call 772-785-5833 or go to website www.stlucieco.gov.

• Check your local branch of the Palm Beach County Lirbrary System for events, 561-233-2600 or go to website www.pbclibrary.org.

 

 

JUST IN: Where to get free eclipse glasses in Palm Beach County

It’s less than three weeks until the Great American eclipse when everyone in the U.S. for the first time in 99 years will see a partial or full solar eclipse.

That includes Florida, where the sun will be about 80 percent obscured by the moon on the afternoon of Aug. 21.

To view the eclipse safely, special eclipse glasses are needed. Traditional sun glasses won’t cut it.

Related: Best places to watch the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse.

The Palm Beach County Library System was given 1,000 free eclipse glasses that are available at its 17 branches and bookmobile.

“They might go fast,” said Chris Jankow, systems activities coordinator for the library system. “And there aren’t a lot to go around.”

Jankow applied for the glasses through a program sponsored by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Research Corporation and Google, which gave out two million glasses to public libraries nationwide.

Related: Check your eclipse forecast. 

More than 2,000 public libraries received the eclipse glasses nationwide. If you don’t live in Palm Beach County, you may check your local library to see if they have any.

To see a map of the libraries hosting eclipse events, click here. 

Astronomers Without Borders also had limited numbers of free glasses available to needy schools.

Some other locations that are hosting eclipse events Aug. 21, such as the Buehler Planetarium and Observatory at Broward College’s Davie campus, have limited numbers of free eclipse glasses.

So if you can’t get a free pair at a local library, it may be better to buy a set.

Here is a link to reputable vendors.  Glasses are available online at Amazon , Walmart, or at some home improvement stores.

It’s important to make sure the glasses are ISO-compliant, meaning they meet specific safety standards for safe viewing.

Richard Tresch Fienberg, press officer for the American Astronomical Society, said the glasses are inexpensive if bought in bulk, but even on a smaller basis, they shouldn’t cost more than $1-$3 each.

Amazon has offers of 10 to 20 pairs for $8 to $19.

“Note that families and groups of friends can share glasses since all that you typically do with them is take an occasional glance at the sun as the partial eclipse slowly progresses,” he said. “It’s like watching grass grow!”

 

Counting down to historic solar eclipse, everything you need to know

The one-month countdown to a total solar eclipse is underway and The Palm Beach Post has everything you need to know in one place.

This site includes the countdown clock, plus stories on how to protect your eyes from the eclipse, where the best places are to view it and how much Florida will see of the eclipse.

A total solar eclipse last touched the U.S. in 1979, turning day to night along a path of a moon shadow that crossed five states. The Aug. 21 eclipse is the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years.

Check The Palm Beach Post radar map.

West Palm Beach, FL…The moon obscurs a little more than 51 percent of the sun at 5:24 p.m. Friday during a partial eclipse. Staff photo by Allen Eyestone

While Florida is too far south to experience the full impact of the eclipse, some residents have been scheming for months to line up prime viewing accommodations, and that includes having quick getaway routes in case a cloud strays overhead and clear-sky arrangements must be found.

Related: Why normal sunglasses will fry your eyes during Aug. 21 eclipse. 

Source: National Centers for Environmental Information

“I’ve spent my whole life looking at the northern sky, and I’ve been hooked on astronomy for a long time, but seeing an eclipse just never worked out,” said Delray Beach resident Rick Kupfer, who will travel 2,000 miles to experience the event. “I understand that once you go through one of these things, you just want to experience it again and again.”

Read more stories on the eclipse at The Palm Beach Post eclipse website here. 

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