Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or have completely avoided any news broadcasts or social media posts, you’re well aware of the total solar eclipse happening on Monday, August 21st 2017.
A solar eclipse happens when the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching the Earth, creating a shadow and there are three different types of eclipses. A total solar eclipse, which requires the Earth, Moon, and Sun to be in perfect alignment and is the rarest, hasn’t been visible from anywhere on mainland United States since the total solar eclipse in March 1979.
The next one will be in April 2024, but it will not be visible from nearly as many US locations the one on Monday.
What this means is that as the Earth rotates on its axis, the location of the total solar eclipse will move across the US in a 73-mile wide band throughout the day and depending on how close you are to this band, the totality of the eclipse will vary. Fortunately for us here in the Rock Hill/Fort Mill SC and Charlotte NC area, we’re extremely close to this band.
Here’s a map of the path the total solar eclipse will take across the US:
Now, even though this is a rare occurrence and many people are excited to witness this astrological phenomenon, it’s incredibly important to understand the risks associated with looking at the sun. Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total solar eclipse when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face.
According to NASA.gov, “the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight.”
Here is what the various stages look like AND recommendations for filter use for each:
Here are some steps to take in order to safely look at Monday’s eclipse:
- 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.
- Always supervise children using solar filters.
- Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical devices.
- Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
- Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
- If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.
- Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.
- If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.
Note: If your eclipse glasses or viewers are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, you may look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun through them for as long as you wish. Furthermore, if the filters aren’t scratched, punctured, or torn, you may reuse them indefinitely. Some glasses/viewers are printed with warnings stating that you shouldn’t look through them for more than 3 minutes at a time and that you should discard them if they are more than 3 years old. Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015.
An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is something called Pinhole Projection. You can learn more about it HERE.
Regardless of whether or not you’ll be making the drive just south of us here in the Rock Hill SC/Charlotte NC area to view the totality of the eclipse OR if you’ll just be going outside around lunchtime, be certain to take proper precautions to protect your eyes!
We’d LOVE to hear about your experience with the total solar eclipse 2017! Be sure to share your stories and pictures below OR on our Facebook page.