Ever since there have been stars and human beings looking at those stars, we have been thrilled and fascinated as a species about what goes on far out away from our planet. We have longed to travel into space and see the moon and possibility of what might be on other planets.
In the last hundred years or so, humankind has made some amazing strides in the development of technology. We have taken those strides and sent humans into orbit, to the moon, and onto space stations to live for months and months at a time. We have seen pictures and telescopic accounts of what is beyond us and how space functions.
Occasionally, we are privileged to get the opportunity to see things with our own eyes from right down here on Earth. If we have the right weather conditions and if we have the right equipment like telescopes and solar glasses, we can view natural space phenomena from right here on the ground more clearly and safely than any Earthly ancestors could ever have done.
One of the great sights to see and be present to is the solar eclipse. A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. This is a scientific phenomenon that happens rarely, to begin with, but this particular solar eclipse is going to be even more special for the United States.
It has been almost four decades since we last got the chance to witness a total solar eclipse in the United States. Partial eclipses have been seen and can be seen with clarity in many parts of the world, but to have one where the apparent diameter of the moon is blocking the sun entirely is very rare. Seeing a total eclipse from the same place only happens once in about every 375 years. If you have the chance to get out and have a look, it would be more than well worth your time.
As fascinating as a total solar eclipse is, it can be very dangerous to look upon without the proper eye protection for solar eclipse viewing. NASA has said that the best eye protection for solar eclipse viewing and the only safe way to view a solar eclipse is through no. 14 welder’s glasses or some specially designed and safe solar eclipse glasses.
Witnessing this amazing miracle of an orbital queue is a great thing most of us in America will get a chance to do to one degree or another. But, if we don’t do it safely, it could create some serious damage to our eyes.
Without the proper eye protection for solar eclipse viewing, you can hurt your retinas without even really knowing how badly you are being injured at the time. One of the damaging effects on your eyes is called solar retinopathy. This is when solar radiation damages the retina and it can take anywhere from one month to a full year to recover from this damage.
If you have ever looked up at the Sun anytime in your life, you already know the possibilities for eye damage. None of us can look into the Sun for more than a few seconds before having to turn away and let our eyes adjust to the world around us, once again. Maybe you remember the boys on the playground–every playground had them, of course–who would have staring contests into the Sun. By the time one of them gave up, everyone in the game needed to hide their eyes while they came back to normal.
Looking at a solar eclipse, though, is no playground game. It is a truly magical thing to behold, but nothing is worth hurting your eyesight. If you have the right eye protection for solar eclipse viewing, you can enjoy this visual feast without the worry of harming your retinas.
The path of this eclipse’s totality will make landfall exclusively over the United States. This is a phenomenon that has not been seen since our independence. The last time an eclipse made exclusive landfall over what is now the United States was in the year 1257.
Have fun watching but please do keep your eyes safe.