August 21 solar eclipse requires safe viewing

Cesar Mills
August 12, 2017

You get up one morning, and your biggest worry is about getting some food. Check the weather of your intended destination before you spend hours sitting in eclipse traffic.

But suddenly your day changes. You watch mesmerized as the son disappears and you think that this is some sort of omen from the gods.

Educate yourself and others about what you may see. Your eyes hurt, and you realize that you can't see as well as you used to.

This has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse because it will only be visible from the United States. Better yet, we are told to look for eclipse glasses, whatever they are. The partial eclipse starts around 11:41 a.m. That makes no difference when it comes to looking at it.

Scientists donated telescopes to trained volunteers to capture 90 minutes of the solar eclipse.

When daylight slowly surrendered into darkness during a solar eclipse in ancient times, some civilizations believed the spectacle was the result of an enormous creature devouring the sun. This certification is used to indicate they are safe for viewing the sun. Take breaks and give your eyes a rest!

Or if you want to take the online experience to another level you could buy a virtual reality headset and experience the eclipse anywhere in the country, say Casper? These can easily be made by simply poking a pin-sized hole (thus the name) in a piece of cardboard, and then holding the cardboard such that the sunlight passes through the hole and falls onto a viewing surface (a white piece of paper, sidewalk, garage door, etc.) To focus the image, the observer simply moves the cardboard farther or nearer from the viewing surface. It is imperative that the welding hood houses a #14 or darker filter. All guests checking in at a hotel in Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday, Aug. 20, will receive complimentary solar eclipse glasses. Be advised that arc welders typically use glass with a shade much less than the necessary #14. You need eclipse glasses.

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NASA advises anyone wanting to look directly at the eclipse consult the American Astronomical Society for a list of reputable vendors of "eclipse glasses" and filters. A person would not know until he or she looks away and is left with permanent central vision loss.

So, on August 21, make sure you have your eclipse viewer handy (which you can buy or make - sunglasses won't be enough to protect your eyes!) And, keep an eye on the weather.

Inspect solar filters before use. The longest that the sun will be blocked during this upcoming eclipse at any given point, will be 2 minutes and 41.6 seconds. There are also tips on how to make an old-fashioned pinhole projector for viewing. There are commercially available projection telescopes as well. Staring at the sun with unprotected eyes is always unsafe, except during the few minutes of totality. While these are only projections, NASA says the map is more accurate this year than ever before. For me, the rule is simple. don't look.

"This is a really fantastic chance to just open the public's eyes to wonder", says Montana State University's Angela Des Jardins, a physicist in charge of a NASA eclipse ballooning project.

If you don't, check out the many news channels.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen and the West Marion Messenger.

Other reports by GizPress

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