On Monday, August 21st, North America will be able to witness a total solar eclipse. For thousands of years, people have observed this phenomena, and this year many in the U.S. will get that chance! The last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979, and the next total eclipse over the U.S. won’t be visible until April 8, 2024. You don’t want to miss this rare event, but make sure you take precautions to ensure your safety.
What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse a rare and striking phenomenon that happens when the moon passes between the sun and earth, blocking all or part of the sun. The Moon will completely block the sun for approximately 2 minutes and 40 seconds, with stars and planets becoming visible, as well as the sun’s outer atmosphere, something NASA described as “one of nature’s most awesome sights.” A partial eclipse will be visible throughout the United States. The totality begins in Oregon at 10:16 a.m. PTD and will end in South Carolina at 2:48 p.m.
What safety precautions should you take?
You can experience the eclipse safely, but it is vital that you protect your eyes at all times with the proper solar filters.
- No matter what recommended technique you use, do not stare continuously at the sun.
- NASA said if viewers are within the “path of totality” (a swath of the US stretching from South Carolina to Oregon), the solar filter should only be removed when the moon completely covers the sun and it gets very dark. As the sun reappears, the solar viewer should be put back on to look at the rest of the eclipse. Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.
- Take breaks and give your eyes a rest!
- Do not use sunglasses; they don’t offer your eyes sufficient protection.
- Be sure to closely supervise children who are using solar filters.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Seek expert advice before using a solar filter with optical devices.
What happens if you do look directly at the eclipse?
There’s a significant risk of eye injuries for those who look directly at the eclipse. Professor of optometry and vision science at the University of Waterloo, Ralph Chou, notes, “Don’t think it’s safe to take quick, surreptitious glances. Those quick little glances do add up and they can, in fact, accumulate to the point where you do get damage at the back of the eye.” You may not notice damage immediately, but you could wake up the next day with bad or blurred vision. Sometimes vision will improve again over time, but it can also be permanent. The bottom line is don’t risk it!
This Monday, take a moment to check out this rare and amazing event, but make sure you and those around you are following proper safety precautions.
Penmac offices will remain open during their regular business hours on Monday, August 21, 2017.