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Partial solar eclipse starts about 5:40 p.m. today

The partial eclipse of the sun this afternoon will be a brief one, and will be on the edge of the horizon.

The moon will begin covering the edge of the sun starting at 5:41 p.m., and will continue until sunset. Experts caution observers not to look at the sun without specially filtered glasses or a telescope, or your eyes could be damaged.

The Williamsville Planetarium is hosting public viewing of the partial solar eclipse at the football stadium behind Casey Middle School. Park near the planetarium or between North High School and Casey, and come out around 5:30 p.m.

There will be properly filtered telescopes and glasses for safe viewing for the public.

Local astronomer Richard Switzer, who sets up astronomy programs at Penn Dixie site, said the sun will be very low in the west. Penn Dixie is not offering a program because by the time the eclipse starts the sun will be too low on the horizon to see it from the quarry.

“It will be close to quarter to 6,” he said. “It’s not going to last long. In order to see it you’d have to be near the lake.”

He thought that by 6:20 p.m. the sun will be below the horizon.

If filtered glasses are not available, he suggests poking a pin hole in cardboard with white paper behind it to view a shadow of the eclipse.

Switzer said he’s more interested in a giant sunspot he saw on the sun today.

“There’s a gigantuan sunspot up there. It’s the biggest one I’ve seen in years,” he said.