Solar Safety

Today’s solar eclipse has received a wide range of coverage and quite a bit of fame among those able to view this natural beauty. Some have reserved hotels for months to be in the line of totality – people are opening their homes, yards, etc. to allow people the best view possible! —- However, is everyone safely watching the eclipse?

totality solar eclipse2

Why does a solar eclipse occur?

 “The moon moves between Earth and the sun. You might think that this should happen every month since the moon’s orbit, depending on how it is defined is between about 27 and 29 days long. But our moon’s orbit is tilted with respect to Earth’s orbit around the sun by about five degrees. Not much, you say? Yes, but the moon, itself, is only about ½ degree in width in the sky, about ½ the width of your pinky finger held at arm’s length. So, sometimes the moon misses too high and sometimes too low to cause a solar eclipse. Only when the sun, moon, and Earth line up close to the “line of nodes”, the imaginary line that represents the intersection of the orbital planes of the moon and Earth, can you have an eclipse.”

– Nasa.gov

 

Why is the sun more intense during an eclipse?

The sun is actually NOT more intense on a solar eclipse. Let’s just put it out there that it is horrible for your eyes to look at the sun any day. Our natural reaction is to look away when something bright is damaging our eyes! However, for the eclipse we will likely ignore this natural defense and continue viewing – which is where damage comes into play.

 

There are a whole line of misconceptions surrounding the eclipse, and Nasa has helped to strike them all down. For additional information please head over to: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-misconceptions

 

If you cannot look at the sun, how do you view the eclipse safely?

There are plenty of options, actually, and no good excuse for ruining your eyes!

glasses

One of the great ways to protect your eyes is by purchasing a pair of Eclipse Shades. Unfortunately, there have been quite a few questionable websites that are selling fake glasses. One of the best ways to ensure you are using proper gear is to go through an authorized dealer – such as those suggested by Nasa themselves!

 

If you didn’t have time to buy the glasses and still wish to view, you have a number of other options!

A wielding mask can be a great option:

“The only ones that are safe for direct viewing of the Sun with your eyes are those of Shade 12 or higher. These are much darker than the filters used for most kinds of welding. If you have an old welder’s helmet around the house and are thinking of using it to view the Sun, make sure you know the filter’s shade number. If it’s less than 12 (and it probably is), don’t even think about using it to look at the Sun.”

A pinhole camera is fun to make & easy to use:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/how-to-make-a-pinhole-camera/

 

Or create a DIY Pinhole Projector:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/8/9/16109520/how-to-diy-pinhole-projector-solar-eclipse-cardboard-paper-budget-safe

 

You can also view through you camera or telescope, BUT…you MUST have a solar filter on the camera/telescope. It will ruin not only your eyes, but also the lens and sensor on the camera you are using.

There is a common misconception going around that simply “taking a selfie” and watching the eclipse in “selfie mode” is safe. It is NOT safe. It will NOT decrease the intensity of looking at the sun, but it will ruin the camera on your phone and most likely your eyes in the process. Slap a filter on it, or use one of the many above options.

Similar situation goes for those who are professionally attempting to take photographs of the sun. A DSLR, the common choice of camera for those wanting more professional quality images, has mirrors on the inside that will help to intensify the light you are looking at. It also has a sensor that will be ruined, along with your eyesight, just as the cellphone does! Please, put a filter on your camera.

 

You can also view the eclipse live, and safely, from your computer or TV:

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-live-stream

 

It is important that you remember safety today. It is a beautiful, natural occurrence and we are all very excited to be viewing it. It’s important to remember that you have to practice safety, and teach any children you have at home with you today that safety as well.

 

There is a large bit of false information spreading around the internet in regards to viewing the sun today, or any day. Be sure that you fact check before spreading this information. You are risking your health, as well as the health of others, by using and giving false information. Heading over to www.nasa.gov/ can help to give a great deal of information on the eclipse and ensure that you are properly handling this.

 

Be safe & enjoy one of nature’s many wonders!

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