Mark your Calendars!!! On Monday, April 8, a solar eclipse will be visible across the entire continental United States and most of Canada.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun, and with this one, the vast majority of North America will experience at least a partial eclipse.
A lucky few million people along a path from Texas to Kentucy to Ohio to Maine and eastern Canada will experience a brief total eclipse when the moon completely blocks the sun for up to 4 minutes. During this time, it will look like dusk along that path.
This total eclipse will make the solar corona visible, and stars and the planets may also be visible during this time.
But looking directly at the sun before it is completely covered is unsafe. Although there is a limited chance of eye damage if you are in the proper area during the total eclipse it is not worth the risk of retinal damage to even take a quick look at the eclipse if it is not “total.”
A large part of the country is not along the pathway where the eclipse will be total so you should not, and residents should never look at the sun without protection.
The only safe way to look directly at the eclipse is through special solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers.
Ordinary sunglasses, even if they are very dark and polarized, are not safe for looking at the sun. You will want to make sure that your eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products.
Even if you have ISO 12312-2 eclipse glasses, you MUST follow the instructions to keep your eyes safe. Always supervise children using solar filters.
A couple specific instructions are found below, courtesy of NASA’s eclipse website– https://science.nasa.gov/eclipses/future-eclipses/eclipse-2024/safety/. For complete instructions, read the entire NASA page.
"Except during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, when the Moon completely blocks the Sun’s bright face, it is not safe to look directly at the Sun without specialized eye protection for solar viewing.
Viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury."
A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime. An eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won't want to miss, but you must carefully follow safety procedures. Don't let the warnings scare you away from witnessing this singular spectacle! 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. Take breaks and give your eyes a rest! Do not use sunglasses: they don't offer your eyes sufficient protection. One excellent resource for safe solar eclipse viewing is here: https://science.nasa.gov/eclipses/safety.
The solar eclipse is a spectacular sight but please remember to watch it safely.
Article contributed by Dr. Brian Wnorowski, M.D.
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