Eclipse expected to shed light

Apart from providing a unique visual experience, today’s solar eclipse will offer scientists some valuable information about the atmosphere and may even help Athens in its on-going battle against rising pollution levels. Five of the country’s leading research institutions will jointly hold an experiment today to monitor the changes to the atmosphere in the capital where a partial eclipse of 87 percent is expected to take place at 1.48 p.m. The moon is expected to first begin blocking the sun in the morning in Brazil before the path of greatest blockage migrates to Africa and then gradually on to Greece and Turkey. «The quality of the atmosphere changes when covered by a shadow with supersonic speed. Our scientific team will study the waves created from the ground up to the ionosphere due to this phenomenon,» Christos Zerefos, secretary of the International Ozone Commission, who is heading the experiment, told Kathimerini. «Our goal is to check the credibility of pollution models and understand more about changing pollution levels from day to night,» he added. Amateur and professional astronomers interested in catching a clear view of the eclipse will need to be in the eastern Aegean island of Kastellorizo, where thousands of people are expected to gather to see the natural phenomenon. Hotels rooms on the small island are fully booked and local authorities have increased the number of flights and ferries connecting the island with neighboring Rhodes for day travelers. Despite the unique occasion – a sight that will not be seen in Greece again until 2088 – authorities warned people not to look directly at the moon passing directly between the earth and the sun as it is likely to cause permanent eye damage. Authorities said that protection provided by items such as regular sunglasses and welding masks are not enough but that people can obtain the right equipment from stores that sell equipment for astronomers.