JONESBORO, Ark. – The last time the contiguous United States saw a total solar eclipse was in 1979.
On Monday, one of nature’s most awe-inspiring visuals will make a return but before you look up, you need to be aware of serious risks to eye safety or you could incur permanent damage.
If you didn’t know by now, a total solar eclipse is set to take place on Monday, August 21 for all of North America. For up to three hours, the moon will block part of our sun. Anyone who is in the path of totality will be able to see the total eclipse of the sun. This is the only time we can view the corona – the atmosphere around the sun. It looks like a halo.
Most will see a partial solar eclipse, including in Northeast Arkansas.
With the solar spectacle comes the need for a different type of spectacles, said Holly Acebo, ABOC, LDO at Lensmasters, 320 S. Church Street in Jonesboro. Acebo wants to be sure if you get nothing else from this story, you do not look directly at the sun without solar eclipse ISO-approved glasses.
“You hear more and more people saying, ‘My kid will keep them on because they’re used to wearing sunglasses,’ but this is different because the protective glasses are totally black,” Acebo said. “If a child doesn’t understand the severity, especially with schools taking large groups out, be sure there are plenty of adults there to ensure the kids keep them on.”
The importance of special glasses can not be understated but they need to have a special ISO rating, Acebo said. The glasses will have the number 12312-2 printed on them to show they’re safe for the event. Normal sunglasses won’t cut it because of the harmful ultraviolet rays. Acebo said those who don’t know how dangerous exposure can be, especially children, might think it is okay to take the glasses off when it is not.
“You can’t see your hand in front of you,” Acebo said. “You can say your kids will keep it on but I don’t know that I would if I didn’t know how dangerous it is.”
Acebo said damage could be permanent and be immediate – or not show up for many years. She said it isn’t like an instantaneous shock but rather, is a damage one gradually notices when it is too late to correct.
NASA.gov plans to stream the event.
Lensmasters recorded a helpful safety video with more information, available here:
Story by Stan Morris | NEA Report
Featured photo credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio