Distinguished Professor of Physics Shashi Kanbur recently answered a few quick questions on what the total solar eclipse on April 8 is, how rare the opportunity is and a key safety recommendation. Kanbur is an internationally renowned expert in astrophysics.

Q. So a simple question, what exactly is a solar eclipse?
A. An eclipse occurs when the moon comes in between the sun and the earth, and in certain instances, the entire disk of the moon can block the entire disk of the sun in certain places on earth. And that's a solar eclipse. (On April 8, 2024), we will have a total solar eclipse. Sometimes only part of the sun's disk is blocked, sometimes the whole disk is blocked. That's a total solar eclipse.

Q. How rare is it to be in the path of a total solar eclipse?
A. It's a pretty rare event. Solar and lunar eclipses are reasonably common, like once every six months or so. But from any given position on earth, a total solar eclipse is fairly rare once in a century, right? Something like that.

Q. What should people do to ensure they are safely viewing an eclipse?
A. Well, obviously, they should never look directly at the sun. It really is dangerous to do that. You should only look at the eclipse through approved safety glasses. We have a large supply of those glasses here at as Oswego. So they should definitely. That's the main thing to do.

For much more information about the solar eclipse and activities on the SUNY Oswego campus, visit oswego.edu/eclipse.