Just the other night someone asked me if I was planning to stay up and watch the solar eclipse that's going to occur on August 21, 2017. I didn't even have an answer. I just stared at them with open eyes and mouth....thinking.....stay up???? The science teacher in me nearly had a heart attack. Clearly this person had no idea what a solar eclipse is. If they did they would have realized that the Sun has to be in the sky so that the moon can move in front of it. This can only happen during the day. So unless they think I sleep all day, there's no reason for anyone to 'stay up' and watch it. In fact, it's going to be almost impossible NOT to watch it! And that brings me to safety.
The eclipse is going to occur on August 21, 2017, during the day, across the USA.
The Sun rises in the Western US first so this is where the first eclipse will be able to be viewed. The first total eclipse will be viewed in Oregon at 10:15 AM PST (Pacific standard time). Here in New York we should begin to see the partial at about 1:23 PM EST, and it will continue until 4:00 PM - that is 2 hours and 37 minutes smack in the middle of the day my friends. Pretty hard to miss. And pretty tempting not to look at!
Check the times for any city here: https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/
And yes, a total eclipse can be viewed without protection. BUT THE PARTIAL CAN NOT. I mean, you can choose to, but that would be like committing vision suicide. Stupid choice. The partial leading up to the total, and the partial that will be viewed by the millions upon millions of people that are not in the path of total eclipse MUST be viewed safely.
Now considering that it is pretty much in the middle of a regular work day (Monday), and considering it is the summer, this means that most people, including children, will be out and about. Knowing it is human nature to be curious (especially children) it is extra important to be prepared. Whether you will be picking the kids up from camp, hanging out at the beach, or simply barbecuing dinner in the backyard YOU KNOW HOW TEMPTING IT WILL BE TO LOOK UP. So please, look up safely!
Here's why you need to look safely:
Remember looking at the Sun and then seeing black spots? Or how about temporary blindness when some idiot flashes his brights in your eyes at night? Why do welders need to wear special eye protection? Basically, the rods and cones in your eyes get over excited from bright lights and it takes a few seconds to minutes (longer, maybe never, if you looked at arc welding light) for your eyes to adjust back to normal. Watch this educational video for more detail:
So what does that have to do with an eclipse? Well, you are still looking at the Sun, and probably more often for a longer period of time in order to watch the eclipse. NASA's website states: "The solar radiation that reaches the surface of Earth ranges from ultraviolet (UV) radiation at wavelengths longer than 290 nm to radio waves in the meter range. The tissues in the eye transmit a substantial part of the radiation between 380 and 1400 nm to the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye. While environmental exposure to UV radiation is known to contribute to the accelerated aging of the outer layers of the eye and the development of cataracts, the concern over improper viewing of the Sun during an eclipse is for the development of "eclipse blindness" or retinal burns."
Bottom line: view the partial eclipse safely. Check out NASA's page about when and why.
Oh, and using a filter for your eyes and then looking through a camera, telescope, or binoculars that doesn't have its own filter is a huge NO NO. Your eyes will not be protected enough. The device must have it's own special, approved, filter because of the magnification. So be smart and do your research!
Here's a few ways to view the eclipse safely with your eyes:
NOTE: even with these precautions do not stare constantly at the eclipse. Look, then look away. You need to continuously give your eyes a break.
A Few things NOT to do:
Enjoy the solar eclipse safely. It will be worth it!
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Hi there! I'm Kathie, the author behind Creating A Simpler Life blog. I'm excited to share our longterm projects (and planning) toward building our future retirement homestead in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. In the meantime I will be sharing all the other little things we do that are part of creating our simpler life!
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