The Coast-to-Coast Solar EclipsePosted July 19, 2017
On August 21st a natural phenomenon is occurring, are you ready for it? A coast-to-coast solar eclipse is taking place, which has not happened in the United States since 1919. Before the big event, hosted by Mother Nature herself, please make sure to read up on the science and safety considerations of viewing a solar eclipse.
The Science of a Solar Eclipse
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets in the way of the sun. This happens about every 18 months. However, in order to be able to view the solar eclipse it needs to happen on the sunny side of the earth and the viewer must be in the path of the moon’s shadow. When all those details come together just right, the results are amazing.
During a solar eclipse, a normally sunny day all of a sudden becomes dark and a bit ominous feeling. The temperature drops and it seems as if the world is preparing to settle into a nighttime slumber. If cloud coverage is light, you may even see stars in the sky during the middle of the day. The total solar eclipse will be fleeting, with the longest duration being two minutes and forty seconds
In an article about the upcoming solar eclipse NASA shared that this particularly solar eclipse is traveling in a path that is an uninterrupted landmass, which will aid scientists and astronomers in collecting data for furthering scientific findings across a variety of disciplines.
The Viewing Path for a Solar Eclipse
The optimal viewing path for a solar eclipse is referred to as the path of totality. Our area, the Roanoke and New River Valleys, will see approximately 91% of the sun obscured at its peak around 2:38 PM. In our area, the sky may look a little “dimmer” like it does before a thunderstorm.
The more dramatic effects occur in the area of totality, which will be about 70 miles wide and will streak from Oregon to Charleston, SC. If you are interested in an optimal viewing experience it will require traveling to an area under the path of totality, such as to Charleston, SC.
Just before totality is when the really crazy effects occur: you may see a pinhole effect of light as it filters through trees—it looks like thousands of “Pac-Men”. The temperature drops a few degrees, a breeze may stir or change, birds chirp loudly then stop as it gets dark, and stars come out during totality.
Regardless of where you watch the solar eclipse, make sure you first read up on important eye safety issues associated with viewing a solar eclipse.
Eye Safety and Viewing a Solar Eclipse
The bottom line of viewing a solar eclipse is to never (never!) view a partial eclipse without protective eyewear. Sunglasses, smoked glass, or tinted plastic do not count as protective eyewear. Specialty viewing glasses are required in order to filter out the dangerous and damaging.
If you were to break all safety rules and view the solar eclipse without correct viewing glasses you are risking permanent damage to your retina—this is a real thing and something we have seen in patients personally. It occurs because concentrated bright light from the sun overwhelms the light receptors within the eye, ultimately causing permanent vision damage.
When the total eclipse is happening, meaning everything gets dark and the sun is fully obstructed by the moon, you can take your glasses off and view the eclipse safely. If the sun is at all visible, leave your viewing glasses on! Wondering where you can find viewing glasses? You can buy them online; just make sure they are ISO approved. Better yet, come to either office on August 21 and get a pair of viewing glasses as part of our viewing parties (that’s right, party time!).
A Solar Eclipse Viewing Party – Join Us
A coast-to-coast solar eclipse has not happened in nearly 100 years; this is something to get excited about! We are ready to celebrate this once in a lifetime phenomenon in a fun—and safe—way. We are throwing a solar eclipse viewing party at each location, Christiansburg, and Salem.
It is not necessary to be an Invision patient to join in on the fun. Come to either office on August 21, 2017 from 1:30-3:30 to enjoy astronomy themed snacks (Hello, Moon Pies!), education about the solar eclipse and most importantly, a safe way to view the eclipse. We have viewing glasses at both locations, available for you to use.