What You Need to Know to Safely Watch the August Solar Eclipse

On August 21st, the first total solar eclipse – the event in which the moon passes between Earth and completely covers the sun – since 1918 will span the country, coast to coast. If you are in “the path of totality,” you will experience the daytime sky darkening, the temperature dropping, the sun disappearing behind the moon and appearing as a black circle in the sky with its corona – or outer atmosphere – visible. This 70-mile wide, 3,000-mile long path will start on the coast of Oregon and move across the country, through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and end in South Carolina. Around 12 million live in the point of totality, and it is predicted that 7 million will make the trip to witness this very likely once in a lifetime event.

Observers of the eclipse – those who will be present at the points of totality for the short duration of time it will take place – should practice caution when viewing this momentous celestial event. Sunglasses will not be sufficient in protecting retinas from the serious injury that would occur from looking at the sun. For even a few seconds, looking at the sun will result in lasting, irreversible eye impairment.

“Not only do [eclipse glasses] block 100,000 times more visible light than ordinary sunglasses, but they also block potentially harmful ultraviolet and infrared radiation,” Rick Fienberg, press officer of the American Astronomical Society, said.

NASA reports that 6,800 libraries are providing safety-certified eyewear. The agency also warns that consumers should not view the eclipse with homemade filters, and the glasses should have certification of ISO 12312-2 international standard. Observers should not use solar filters designated for eyewear for cameras, telescopes, or binoculars, as they are intended for solely eye use. Get the proper eclipse glasses online, such places like Amazon here.

How much the moon covers the sun depends upon proximity to the point of totality. If you are outside this path, you will experience a partial solar eclipse, in which the moon only partly covers the Sun’s disk. Observers of this partial version of the eclipse must also have eye protection – solar filters or can view it indirectly. Consumers can construct a pinhole viewer by just paper and an empty cereal box. “punch a small hole in a card, and with the sun at your back, project the sun through that hole onto a second card, a wall or the ground,” Fienberg said. “The easiest way which needs no equipment at all is to find a nice leafy tree and look under it during the partial phases of the eclipse,” Fienberg added.

Read more here – “How to safely view the total solar eclipse,” (Brian Lada, AccuWeather)

Image Copyright: PhotographerStock Photo, License Summary.

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