How to enjoy the solar eclipse and keep from going blind

It’s almost a miracle to find Solar Eclipse glasses now that Eclipse Fever has hit our country. But, even if you have been unable to find these highly sought out glasses, here is everything you need to know to enjoy this historical phenomenon.

History of the Solar ECLIPSE

This Monday, August 21, 2017, there will be a total solar eclipse visible in a belt spanning all across the US. Total solar eclipses occur when the New Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow, the umbra, on Earth. A full solar eclipse, known as totality, is almost as dark as night.

This will be the first total solar eclipse visible from anywhere on mainland United States since the total solar eclipse in March 1979. The next one will be in April 2024, but it will not be visible from nearly as many US locations as the 2017 eclipse. For a laugh, check out this Buzzfeed Article on how things are different since the last total eclipse in 1979.

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A crowd in a California town observes the total eclipse of the sun that occurred in September 1923. The last total solar eclipse in any part of the country before this was in 1918. Photo: Hulton Deutsch / Getty Images

Where to see the Solar Eclipse

Even though this is a rare total solar eclipse, this Monday, most of the U.S. will see a partial eclipse. The path of “totality” runs on a narrow path from Oregon through South Carolina. However, we will still see a large part of the sun covered. Check out how much of an eclipse you’ll see, and when, by entering your location on this page.

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At appro

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There are 5 stages in a total solar eclipse in Deerfield Beach, FL:

  1. At approximately 1:20 pm the partial eclipse begins: The Moon starts becoming visible over the Sun’s disk. The Sun will begin to look as if a bite has been taken from it.
  2. At approximately 2:00 pm the total eclipse begins: The entire disk of the Sun begins to be covered by the Moon.
  3. At about 2:57 pm you will see the maximum eclipse: The Moon completely covers the disk of the Sun. Only the Sun’s corona is visible. This is the most dramatic stage of a total solar eclipse. Things to look for:  1. The sky will be darker. 2. Temperatures will fall.  3. Birds and animals often go quiet.
  4. At approximately 3:30 pm total eclipse ends: The Moon starts moving away, and the Sun begins to reappear.
  5. At about 4:20 pm the partial eclipse ends: The Moon completely stops overlapping the Sun’s disk.

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Let’s get serious. YES! You do you need to keep from looking at the eclipse directly.

Every article on the eclipse starts with a warning not to stare at it. And yet. Remember when the best way to get your four year-old to eat broccoli was to tell him “Don’t eat the baby trees?” Impulse control is a challenge and the temptation will be strong. So be prepared.

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Women observe the solar eclipse of April 8, 1921, in Paris. Photo: Adoc-photos

Here’s why you need to control yourself:

You should NEVER look directly at the Sun, eclipsed or otherwise, without proper protective eyewear.

What actually happens if you stare at the sun?

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When you look into the sun, right away your eyes get sunburned from the ultraviolet light:

  • First, your cornea, the clear outer layer of your eyes, will blister and crack. But just like sunburn, the damage won’t show up until hours later. So you can’t actually tell when it’s burning.
  • Stare at the sun longer, and the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye in the retina — which register images and send them to your brain — release chemicals which damage surrounding tissues.
  • Keep staring, and you can go blind. Yes, this can happen within the timeline of an eclipse.

Two things that make eclipses particularly dangerous:

  1. The light is less bright than usual, so our normal aversion to looking at the sun can disappear.
  2. You don’t have nerve endings in your eyes — so you won’t know you’ve cooked your eyes until it’s too late.

How to watch the eclipse safely.

You can buy inexpensive eclipse glasses to make it safe. BUT they may have sold out. Libraries on this map are also giving out several million free pairs. But, supplies are limited so check before you arrive

Local libraries include:

  1. Delray Beach Public Library
  2. Boca Raton Public Library
  3. Lighthouse Point Library
  4. Margate Catherine Young Library
  5. Broward Country Main Library
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A crowd of people observe a solar eclipse from the grounds of Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, England, circa 1927. Photo:Fox Photos

Locally, try these locations to be part of group eclipse viewings in our area:

  1. 1pm – 5pm Fox Observatory
  2. 12:30pm – 4:30pm S3 Restaurant, Fort Lauderdale
  3. 1:30pm – 4:30pm Bamboo Tiki Bar, Fort Lauderdale
  4. 12:30pm-7pm African-American Research Library and Cultural Center
  5. 1pm -5pm Broward County Main Library
  6. 2pm – 3pm North Lauderdale Saraneiro Library
  7. 1:30pm – 4:30pm The Nak, Boca Raton
  8. 2pm – 4:30pm Sugar Sands Park
  9. 1:30pm – 4:30pm FAU Observatory
  10. 1pm-4pm Spanish River Library

Glasses hard to find? We don’t need no stinkin’ glasses. Use the DIY arts-and-crafts approach instead!

Here’s the old-school way to watch: build a pinhole camera, which can be as simple as an index card or paper plate with a tiny hole poked in it. With your back to the sun, you hold the card in the sun, and let the light passing through the hole shine onto a second card. Voila–the image of the sun!

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To watch a solar eclipse safely, wear protective eclipse glasses or project an image of the eclipsed Sun using a pinhole projector. This blog has full instructions–plus a really cool way kids can incorporate a hand-drawn design into the projection. You can also make a fancier one with a cardboard box. Or even use a pair of binoculars to project an image onto paper. WARNING: Never ever look at the sun through binoculars — even with eclipse glasses on!

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A group of nurses watch a solar eclipse through special dark glasses in June 1927. Photo: Fox Photos