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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — There will be a partial solar eclipse Thursday, but clouds forecast for the area threaten good views of the event, a University of Tennessee astronomer said.

 “It appears unlikely the weather will cooperate,” said Paul Lewis, head of astronomy outreach for the UT-Knoxville physics department. “Maximum coverage of the sun will be about 1 p.m. (one hour earlier in the central time zone).”

 If there is a break in cloud cover, Lewis said looking directly at the sun — even in eclipse — can cause eye damage.

 “The safest way to view the eclipse is the indirect method,” Lewis said. “Just take a piece of cardboard, stick a pin hole through it, and hold the cardboard in such a way that you can see the image of the sun on the ground.”

 Lewis said the image of the sun in partial eclipse will look like a cookie with a bite taken out of it.

 Although Thursday’s event is a partial eclipse of only about 20 percent of the sun, it will be the last solar eclipse this century, Lewis said.

 For a better view of the eclipse, Lewis recommended a quick flight to the Caribbean island of Aruba.

 “There they will see a total eclipse,” Lewis said. “Aruba. Now that’s an idea.

 “We won’t see a total eclipse of the sun here until 2017,” Lewis said.


Contact: Paul Lewis (423-974-7815)