Tips for safely viewing the solar eclipse

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It is a celestial event that has not been visible to North America in nearly four decades. On August 21st, 2017, the moon will pass between the earth and sun for a total solar eclipse.

"The sun is 400 times bigger than the moon but it's also 400 times further away, so from our sky the moon and the sun look to be exactly the same size," Downing Planetarium Director Dr. Steven White said.

That path of totality will sweep across 14 US states, starting in Salem, Oregon. According to NASA a partial solar eclipse will be visible in every U.S. state, as well as parts of South America, Africa, and Europe-- the Valley will be treated to a 72-percent view.

Whether you are taking a road trip to get the whole solar eclipse experience or viewing from home you are going to need protective eyewear.

Dr. Eric Poulsen, with Insight Vision Center, said, "It's a lot of fun and exciting looking at the eclipse, just do not look at it with your naked eye. It's too dangerous; it will permanently damage your eye."

Sunglasses won't cut it and Dr. Poulsen said looking at direct sunlight needs to be done through filters that meet the ISO safety standards.

"You get extreme bright light focused on a small part of the retina and that burns the retina inside of the eye."

Dr. White said telescopes like a Sun Spotter or specialized solar eclipse glasses will give you the best view.

"They block 99.999-percent of the light, and so when you look through these at the sun you see a nice looking yellow disk."

Number 14 grade welding glasses are also a suitable fit.

To check your lenses make sure you can't see anything but the sun.

The next time a total solar eclipse will be visible from the US is April 8th, 2024.
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