Protect your eyes from damage when viewing the solar eclipse

Alain Brian
Août 12, 2017

The easiest way to view the eclipse safely is with eclipse glasses.

While a last-minute rush has left many dealers out of stock two weeks before the big day, the good news is that USA astronomy buffs have to wait only seven more years for the next total solar eclipse over North America, in April 2024.

Sure, solar power systems spend time in the dark on a daily basis, but the eclipse is a one-time event, not something that happens every day and is built into the system.

As students return to school, a rare and attractive natural phenomenon will help kick off the school year. Looking further down the road, we will get a chance to see totality here with the eclipse of April 8, 2024 - the northern edge of the narrow band of the umbra of our moon's shadow will pass right over IU Kokomo.

Protect your eyes from damage when viewing the solar eclipse
Protect your eyes from damage when viewing the solar eclipse

But when totality hits on August 21, scientists will know exactly how much solar radiation is blocked, the area of land it is blocked over and for how long. The Mayborn Science Theater will host a special viewing of the total solar eclipse on August 21. "The path of this eclipse makes it a once-in-a-lifetime event in that it transects the country nearly down the middle - meaning it is a one-day drive for a vast majority of the nation". The sun is now completely covered by the moon, and the only part of the sun visible is it's corona, or atmosphere - which can only be seen during a total solar eclipse (the corona is pretty incredible: While the sun's surface temperature is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures in the corona rise to between three and four MILLION degrees!). North American viewers outside that band will see a partial eclipse.

"There's no such thing as an nearly total eclipse", Schneider said. "On a normal day, your pets don't try to look at the sun, and therefore don't damage their eyes", said Angela Speck, director of astronomy and a professor of astrophysics at the University of Missouri.

Social media activity has been increasing for months now, building up the anticipation to be part of this rare event. One thing we do have in common with our pets is that human, canine and feline eyes can all suffer from "eclipse blindness" when safe precautions are not taken during the eclipse viewing. Unfiltered cameras, telescopes, binoculars or other optical devices concentrate the solar rays and are a definite no-go in regard to eye safety. For example, the California grid operator has daily experience managing solar output as the sun rises and sets, compensating for diminished sunlight by increasing the output from other sources. This will include interviews with scientists and live panel questions, high-resolution sun images and a balloon launch.

Stretching from roughly 50 to 400 miles above Earth's surface, the tenuous ionosphere is an electrified layer of the atmosphere that reacts to changes from both the Earth below and space above. So for an eclipse to occur, the moon must land on a specific point where the moon's orbit intersects the earth's orbit. Most parts of the USA will witness a partial solar eclipse.

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