Solar Eclipse August 21st

We are less than two weeks away from the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse! Learn what can actually happen if you look at the Sun without any protection. We have some great tools for you to use during your viewing of the Partial Eclipse. It’s time to get Mooned!

Caution: It is never safe to look directly at the Sun, even during an Eclipse!

Even though Michigan is not directly in the path of the Solar Eclipse, there are still ways to enjoy and be a part of the viewing gallery for a partial eclipse. What’s the difference between a Lunar Eclipse and Solar Eclipse and why we don’t see them very often? Our moms have always told us “Don’t look at the sun or you will burn your eyes!”- well, mom was right.

This Solar Eclipse is Rare!

An eclipse occurs when the Earth, Moon and Sun are aligned in the same orbital path. The Moon’s orbital path “wobbles” around the Earth vs. a flat orbit like the planets around the Sun, which makes an eclipse so rare. A Lunar Eclipse occurs when the Earth is in between the Sun and Moon, slowly casting a shadow on the Moon. A Solar Eclipse, which is what we will be seeing this month, is when the Moon is in between the Earth and Sun.

For a few moments the Moon will be directly in front of the Sun, casting a shadow on the Earth. A partial eclipse is more common, where only a partial shadow is visible. A Total eclipse happens when there is a perfect alignment causing a contiguous “path of totality” across the globe, like the eclipse happening on August 21, 2017. Since Michigan is not in the “path of totality” we will still be able to see a partial eclipse, which is still very exciting.

The last total solar eclipse was February 26, 1979. Not able to take time on August 21st, no worries! The next total solar eclipse will be April 8, 2024 visible in the southern states

Immediate Eye Damage from Looking Directly at the Sun

Looking directly at the Sun is dangerous and can cause vision loss, even if an object is covering the Sun. The Sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays which is what is most harmful to your eyes, especially since you cannot see these rays. Have you ever been outside on a cloudy day and still got sunburn? That is because the clouds can block the Sun’s light, but not the ultraviolet rays.

When you stare at the Sun too much ultraviolet light flooding to the retina can cause damage to the retinal cells or “solar retinopathy”.The human retina is a layer of cells at the back of the eye located near the optic nerve. These cells basically help the brain process a picture from the focused light. This can cause immediate strain on the eye, temporary vision loss, spots and in some cases- blindness. Since the retina has no pain receptors, any damage can occur without you even knowing it. So always wear eye protection when outside and never look directly at the sun!

Take Part in Viewing the Partial Eclipse in Michigan

You can still take part in the partial eclipse while protecting your eyes. If you want topurchase eclipse viewing glasses, you will want to make sure they meet the ISO 12312-2 international standards.

  • You can also save some money and have some fun by making your own pinhole camera.
  • Welders goggles or glasses that are rated 14 or higher can be used to view the solar eclipse.
  • If you will be wanting to take pictures or video of the eclipse you will still need an add-on Solar Filter for your camera.
  • There will also be places holding parties and live viewings of the Solar Eclipse, like the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
  • Again, never look directly at the Sun or solar eclipse without full eye protection, you only have ONE pair of eyes that cannot be replaced!

From the staff at AEP – have a safe and memorable Eclipse!

Useful Links:

NASA Eclipse 2017

Eclipse 101 Safety
NASA’s Eyes-live View
How to Make Solar Eclipse Viewer
How to Make Your Own Pinhole Camera
All About Solar Eclipse Glasses
When and Where to View the Eclipse

Grand Rapids Public Museum
Eclipse Live Viewing Party

American Optometric Association
Eclipse Safety

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