NOTE:  A number of frequently asked questions follow this message from SFAAA's President
 
Folks,
 
By now you'd have to be in a coma not to know that on Monday August 21st there will be an eclipse of the Sun.  Fox Astronomical Observatory in Broward County’s Markham Park will be open to the public from Noon until 5 PM to provide views of this event.  Viewing from Fox Observatory, the eclipse will begin at approximately 1:26 PM.  The maximum extent of the eclipse will occur at approximately 2:57 PM, at which time the solar disk will be approximately 80% covered.  The eclipse event will end at approximately 4:20 PM.  
 
For your safety, public eclipse observing will be possible through Observatory eye safety filtered telescopes and glasses.  We cannot stress this warning strongly enough - even at the maximum, attempting to view the eclipse without proper eye protection will damage your eyesight and could easily cause blindness.  Please do not ever attempt to view the sun, in eclipse or not, without the proper protective gear.  Sunglasses absolutely will not protect you.  Only use equipment that is certified safe for solar viewing, such as that which will be provided by the Observatory.  
 
PLEASE NOTE:  We have a very limited supply of eclipse glasses that will be made available on a first come, first served basis (one per FAMILY due to the number of people we expect) on the day of the event at Fox Observatory.  We will distribute the glasses until our supply is exhausted.  Given that the number of guests that we now expect to see at the event has exploded well beyond anything we ever initially expected, we do fully expect this supply of glasses to be quickly exhausted.  We strongly suggest that you plan to bring your own eclipse glasses if you can do so in order to ensure that you'll be able to view the eclipse maximum yourself.
   
Did you procrastinate and now you can't find any glasses to purchase for the event?  We've received numerous emails from desperate folks who are in the same boat as you are.  Fear not - all is not lost!  You can also safely view the eclipse with an easy DIY project for making a "pinhole eclipse projector".  A google search for a number of ways to build your own pinhole based eclipse viewer can be found here.  This is a really easy way to make your own safe and really inexpensive viewer in just a few minutes time.  Bring your creation to our eclipse event and show off your handiwork! 
  
Although the Park normally charges an admission fee on weekends and holidays, they will not be charging admittance during this event as it will occur on a week day.  Admission to the Observatory whenever it is open to the public is always free.  That said, bear in mind that we fund our operating expenses 100% from visitor donations and member dues, so please consider making a donation or becoming a member of the club when you visit.
 
Lastly, if you are planning on attending this event, please consider letting us know that by checking in on our Facebook eclipse event page
 
Thanks,
Charlie Hein
President, SFAAA
 
Eclipse FAQ
 
Q: Are you open for the eclipse?  When is the eclipse?
 A: Fox Astronomical Observatory in Broward County’s Markham Park will be open to the public from Noon until 5 PM to provide views of this event.  Viewing from Fox Observatory, the eclipse will begin at approximately 1:26 PM.  The maximum extent of the eclipse will occur at approximately 2:57 PM, at which time the solar disk will be approximately 82% covered.  The eclipse event will end at approximately 4:20 PM.  
 
Q: I was wondering if it is possible I could purchase solar eclipse protective eye wear from the observatory before the eclipse?  Can I reserve eclipse glasses for my entire family?
 A: We do not have eclipse glasses for sale.  We will be distributing eclipse glasses at no charge at our event on Monday 8/21 starting at around noon. 
PLEASE NOTE: The response to our eclipse event has far exceeded any expectations that we might have had for it.  Because of this, the stock of glasses we have available is not even close to being large enough to guarantee everyone a pair. Therefore, the eclipse glasses will only be available on a STRICTLY first come, first served basis - ONE PAIR PER FAMILY ONLY.  We will obviously be unable to take any reservations for eclipse glasses at all. 
Finally, in order to help us to make a set available to as many families as possible, we would greatly appreciate it if you would return the glasses to us for re-issue when you are finished with them, but this is certainly not a requirement. 
 
Q: We are going to South Carolina Saturday to view the total solar eclipse.  Do you have any recommendations where or how we could obtain a pair of ISO certified glasses?
 A: Check your local Walmart in the eye care section or at Lowes.  We have also heard that some 7-11 stores may have glasses available.  We suggest that you call ahead in order to confirm availability.
PLEASE NOTE: ISO doesn't certify the solar eclipse glasses.  ISO specifies the standard under which the glasses should be mede.  The manufacturer of the glasses is responsible for soliciting an external testing agency (such as UL) to test and then provide a certification back to the manufacturer as to the product's conformance to the ISO standard.  Contrary to what you may have read on the Internet, NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) cannot certify them either as they are not a testing facility.  Eclipse FAQ
 
Q: I can't find eclipse glasses anywhere!  Is there any other way to safely view the eclipse without having a special telescope?
 A: Fear not - all is not lost!  You can also safely view the eclipse with an easy DIY project for making a "pinhole eclipse projector".  A google search for a number of ways to build your own pinhole based eclipse viewer can be found here.  This is a really easy way to make your own safe and really inexpensive viewer in just a few minutes time.  Bring your creation to our eclipse event and show off your handiwork! 
 
Q: Is there a way to make a reservation or save a spot?
A: In short, the answer is no - simply because this would be an impossibility given the number of people we expect to attend and the layout of the Observatory property itself.   We will be presenting the eclipse for telescopic viewing on as many instruments as we can muster for the event.  All of the instruments will likely have a queue of observers throughout the event.  We will accomodate everyone we can, as quickly and orderly as we can, strictly on a first come, first served basis.  That being said, you are invited and welcome to join any of these queues at any time throughout the duration of the eclipse, so it should be easily possible to sample the view from a number of the telescope setup on the site.  Just expect for there to be a bit of a wait at each station.
 
Q: I am concerned about being outside while it is still an eclipse.
A: As long as you absolutely refrain from attempting to view the eclipse event without proper eye protection, you are completely safe from vision damage or blindness for the duration of the eclipse.  The sun is no less dangerous to view without protection during the eclipse than it is at any other time - it's only that you are more inclined to have a look when you know that there's something to see - so some common sense caution on your part is all that's required to protect your vision.  
It is arguably more important to be aware that the greatest risks for being outside during the eclipse are things that you may not have considered, but are completely common-sense... namely, sunburn, heat exhaustion and dehydration.   These are the very same risks that you have whenever you are outdoors on any hot summer day here in South Florida and the eclipse does not lessen them in any way whatsoever.  Be sure to be aware of these risks during your visit to the observatory, and wear a hat, bring water, sunscreen or an umbrella for shade in order to mitigate these completely normal risks.
 
Q: I am interested in viewing the solar eclipse with my two young children. I was wondering if there will be long lines waiting outdoors in the heat?
A: The reality is that this is an outdoor event in August in South Florida, and the interest in the eclipse is huge, far bigger than anyone expected.  Expect it to be hot, and plan for protecting your children in the same way you would on any oudoor outing. In addition to this, we strongly advise you to watch your small children very carefully to make certain that they never attempt to view the eclipse without adequate protection, as your children may not understand the risks.   
We cannot know for sure how many people will show up, but we do expect a very large number of people to attend.  We will be presenting the eclipse for telescopic viewing on as many instruments as we can muster for the event.  All of the instruments will likely have a queue of observers throughout the event.  We will accomodate everyone we can, as quickly and as orderly as we can, strictly on a first come, first served basis.  That being said, you are invited and welcome to join any of these queues at any time throughout the duration of the eclipse, so it should be easily possible to sample the view from a number of the telescope setup on the site.  Just expect for there to be a bit of a wait at each station.
  
Q:  I have three children whom I will be taking out of school early in  Weston and coming over.  I'm not sure if I'll get there in time as Broward County Public Schools are in session that day and I'm at the mercy of however long it takes them to release my children.  Can you reserve a spot for us?
 A: Unfortunately, we can't reserve a spot for you, simply because this would be an impossibility given the number of people we expect to attend and the layout of the Observatory property itself.   However, according to many news sources, Broward County Schools will excuse students "with proper school notification in accordance with the District’s attendance policy” on eclipse day, so you should be able to get here in plenty of time to view the event through multiple telescopes.
 
 
 
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