News

Total Eclipse of the… Sun?!

Some Dared to Stare Without Protection and Some Were Sold Fake Eclipse Glasses

By: Clara Perez

On Monday August 21, 2017, much of the world was treated to the rare sights of a total solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse is a celestial phenomenon where the moon passes between planet Earth and the Sun which results in a partial or total occult—block of the Sun.

During a total eclipse, the moon is in the new moon phase meaning that it is a full circle shape and so, a complete occult of the circular sun can be observed.

According to NASA, 14 states were able to view the complete solar eclipse while the rest of the continental United States, parts of South America, Africa and Europe were able to witness a partial eclipse.

The stretch of states that were able to watch the sun become totally eclipsed during the duration of the solar event, referred to as the “path of totality,” were Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina, respectively.

The solar eclipse experience lasted from about 9 am PDT to 4 pm EDT with the sun being completely blocked for a total of 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

The last time a total eclipse could be seen from the United States was back in February 1979.

The next total eclipse visible by the United States is expected to occur in 2024, but its path will be different than that of the 2017 eclipse with other states like Texas and upper New England states making up the path of totality.

Since the solar eclipse, many people have reported vision issues and pain of the eye.

While protective glasses were recommended for viewing the solar eclipse, many didn’t have access to the product and stared directly at the Sun.

Even mere seconds of exposure to the Sun’s rays could have potential short and long term effects.

Damage to the eye that results to changes in vision can be symptomatic immediately or within weeks of the exposure.

Short term damage can be experienced within the first 24 hours of exposure and may present itself as eye pain and light sensitivity.

Long term damage, which can be a worry to some of us weeks after the eclipse, may also be experienced as eye pain, light sensitivity and loss of central vision in one or both eyes.

If you are concerned about the health of your vision or the vision of someone you know, it is suggested that anyone visit their local ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam.

As for the next total solar eclipse coming up in 2024, if anyone is interested in investing in a pair of those protective viewing glasses, be careful where you purchase them from.

Upon the news of the total solar eclipse, the demand for these glasses skyrocketed and with this burst in demand also came a burst in website scamming.

The Washington Post recently reported that the American Astronomical Society had received a significant number of reports concerning the sale of unsafe eclipse glasses that are potentially dangerous.

Uncertified solar eclipse glasses were being sold on many websites including Amazon, and some products have since been recalled.

These counterfeit glasses are not effective at blocking the harmful brightness of the Sun which can lead to many of the short and long term issues previously stated.

NASA has released a list of reliable sources in which to buy solar eclipse viewing glasses that have been certified to international safety standards.

The list is available now on the American Astronomical Society’s eclipse website under the resources tab (eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters).

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