(This Franklin Fact was prepared by Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts)

On Christmas Day, North America will experience the last solar eclipse of the year. It's a partial eclipse and if the weather's clear, it'll be visible in the Delaware Valley.

Solar eclipses are rare events and occur when the moon passes between the earth and the sun and the moon's shadow falls onto the earth. You can watch this eclipse but remember - the sun can only be "directly" viewed through special filters which block out harmful solar radiation. By directly looking into the sun without protection you risk permanent damage to the eye's retina. Filters are available at the Franklin Institute gift shop.

There are two indirect ways to view the eclipse. One - reflect the sun's image onto a shadowed wall with a mirror. Two - view the images projected onto a white sheet by the holes of masonite pegboard.

In our area, the next solar eclipse occurs in October of 2144 so donít miss this one! The eclipse begins at 11:07 a.m., peaks at 12:45 p.m. and ends at 2:19 p.m.

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