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How to View the 2017 Solar Eclipse Safely

How to View the 2017 Solar Eclipse Safely

On August 21st, 2017 there will be a Solar Eclipse that will be visible all across America weather permitting. For science nerds like me, this is super exciting news! But since this eclipse will be visible everywhere in the United States, public awareness is going to continue to build as the event gets closer. That means we have a great opportunity as eye care professionals to educate the public on eclipse viewing safety. So, I decided to make a short video that I blasted out to my followers called, “How to Safely View the 2017 Solar Eclipse.” I also used the video to encourage local followers to visit my store by offering free eclipse glasses for anyone who pops in and mentions that they saw the video.   

If you are lucky enough to live directly in the 70-mile-wide path that will run from Oregon to South Carolina you will experience what astronomers call “Totality.” This is a phase of the eclipse where the sun is completely blocked by the moon. During “Totality” the sky will go dark for about one to two and half minutes depending on where you are in the path. It is also during this time that the sun’s corona will be visible as well as some planets and bright stars. The rest of the continent will experience what is known as a partial eclipse. 

Now, let’s talk about the best and safest ways to experience the eclipse. With one exception, looking directly at the sun is never safe unless you have the proper eye protection. The only safe time to look directly at the sun is during “totality,” the phase during an eclipse when the moon completely blocks the face of the sun. Even with very dark sunglasses it is not safe to look directly at the sun. When you are looking at a partially eclipsed sun you need to wear glasses that have special solar filters. Failure to wear the proper eye protection could result in “Eclipse blindness,” which is a serious injury in which the retina is damaged by solar radiation. Recent reports have raised concerns that some eclipse glasses being sold in the U.S. do not meet the International safety standards for viewing a solar eclipse. Proper eclipse glasses need to do the following: filter out 100% UV light, 100% of infrared, and 99.999% of visible light. NASA has recommended four companies to purchase your eclipse glasses from that meet the ISO 12312-2 International Standard. Those companies are: American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE17. Beware that purchasing Eclipse glasses from other suppliers may be putting your eye health in jeopardy. NASA also recommends to “Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter. And Always supervise children using solar filters.”

 Image by  Luc Viatour

Image by Luc Viatour

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