You’ve probably heard about the solar eclipse taking place tomorrow, Monday, August 21, 2017, but what’s so special about THIS solar eclipse? Solar eclipses happen every year, usually more than once a year. With how people are talking about it, you would think that this only happens once in a century. CLOSE! This eclipse is different because it is the first eclipse to cover the entire United States since 1918! Thanks to my Astro 001 class last semester, I am more than qualified to teach you all about the inner mechanisms of a solar eclipse.
A solar eclipse is when the moon passes through the Earth’s orbit around the sun, thus blocking out the sun and the light that it gives off. The sun is far too large to be completely covered by the moon if you’re not in the path of totality. Other states, like Pennsylvania, who are not in that path will experience a partial eclipse. We won’t be in total darkness, but it will be darker than it usually is.
Most of the damage to your eyes will happen while staring up at the sun waiting for the eclipse, but the eclipse also exposes the solar corona, which can only be seen during an eclipse and is more damaging to eyes than the sun itself. The eclipse itself will not blind you, but take precaution for both of these things. In order to protect your eyes, you may look at the eclipse through the NASA approved solar-viewing sunglasses, which protect your eyes while you look up and wait for the eclipse. You can pick up a pair of these glasses from the Arboretum.
DO NOT look up at the eclipse unless you have the certified protective eyewear. The eclipse can do a lot of damage to your retinas, so please refrain from looking directly (and even indirectly through a camera, telescope, etc.) at it. Instead, to save your eyes from lifelong damage, and to kill your attention span during sylly week classes, take a look at the livestream that NASA will be posting on Facebook Live at 12 PM ET. Pennsylvanians will get the eclipse at around 2:30 and it will last about two minutes. Use approved protective eyewear and PLEASE close all shades and ensure that you and your pets have no chance of directly looking at the eclipse.