On Thursday afternoon, Bay Area residents and visitors will be able to view a partial eclipse of the sun in the southwestern sky, but experts warn that looking at the sun for more than a glance without proper protection or a filter can damage eyes.
Many observatories, science centers and colleges in the Bay Area are holding viewing parties where people can view the eclipse using a filter or other protective equipment.
"It's really a fun event," said Foothill College astronomer Andrew Fraknoi.
He said the eclipse will look "like a giant black bite being taken out of the sun."
The best time to view the eclipse locally is between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. At 3:15 p.m., about 40 percent of the sun will be covered, the maximum amount that will be covered in this event.
The eclipse will begin in the Bay Area at 1:52 p.m. and end at 4:32 p.m., according to astronomers.
An eclipse of the sun happens when the moon gets between the sun and Earth and covers up some or all of the sun.
"They don't happen every day," said Ben Burress, staff astronomer at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland. Burress added that most eclipses are partial eclipses and Bay Area residents and visitors may see the earth's sunlight dim Thursday.
Other eclipses go without notice among a majority of the population, Burress said.
The Foothill College Observatory in Los Altos Hills will open at 2 p.m. for an eclipse party and safe viewing. The Chabot Space & Science Center will be open to viewers at 1:45 p.m.
On their own, viewers can use special glasses or create a way to project the sun to view the eclipse.
The best way, Fraknoi says, is to make a pinhole projector by taking two pieces of thick paper or cardboard and making a clean pinhole in one. Facing away from the sun, people can hold the cardboard or paper with the hole in it and allow the sun to project an image through the pinhole onto the other paper.
To get a sharper image, people can cut a square in one of the pieces of paper or cardboard, tape a sheet of aluminum foil over the square hole and poke a pinhole in the foil. Allow the sun to pass through the hole in the foil.
Nowhere on earth will the eclipse be total, Fraknoi said.