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Counting down to the Eclipse in Rockwall

(ROCKWALL, TX – August 2, 2017) Last month when I introduced the 2017 eclipse to viewers in Rockwall (see column here), I explained that our event will last from 11:39 in the morning until 2:39 in the afternoon.  The Sun will be in deepest eclipse of the Moon at approximately 1:09 in the afternoon, shortly after lunch.  The column also addressed the importance of using ISO 12312-2 certified solar safe glasses to protect your eyes from permanent blindness while viewing a partially eclipsed Sun.  Heading into the home stretch, it’s important to reiterate SAFETY, describe what we will be doing at the Rockwall County Library, and explain why it’s important to view this eclipse around knowledgeable, well-equipped people.

Looking at the Sun Without Properly Certified Safety Equipment can BLIND YOU!

Here in Rockwall, our deepest eclipse will be when 76.6% of the Sun is covered by the Moon. Even though it will become quite dark outside during the eclispe,  it will NEVER be safe to look at the Sun without approved Solar Safety Glasses.  If you come to our event at the Rockwall County Library during the eclipse, we will have approved safety glasses, as well as solar safe telescopes.  The 350 pairs of solar filter glasses I have obtained from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab are on the certified and accredited vendors list produced by the American Astronomical Society (https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters) as are the 100 pairs of glasses ordered by the Rockwall County Library. Please don’t buy a pair of glasses on your own unless they are on this list.  The brand of certified glasses I have are Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades).  Since the demand for eclipse glasses has skyrocketed in the recent weeks with more than 300-million people in the path of the eclipse, unscrupulous vendors are counterfeiting the ISO symbol and passing off uncertified glasses that are dangerous and could leave you blind.

NASA recommends the following (https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-recommends-safety-tips-to-view-the-august-solar-eclipse)

Eclipse viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers should meet all the following criteria:

·      Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard

·      Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product

·      Not be used if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses

·      Not use homemade filters

·      Ordinary sunglasses — even very dark ones — should not be used as a replacement for eclipse viewing glasses or handheld solar viewers

Several  of my professional solar filters are manufactured by Lunt Solar Systems. This is one of my  trusted resources for high-quality solar equipment. I recently came across an article in Quartz media  (https://qz.com/1040159/solar-eclipse-glasses-for-sale-on-amazon-may-not-meet-nasa-safety-recommendations/ )that demonstrates how seriously some governments take eclipse safety. Andrew Lunt  explained to Quartz that his Arizona-based company’s  sister company TSE17, sold eclipse glasses in Germany leading up to the 2015 solar eclipse. Lunt recalled “in Germany, people were rioting in the street because the government mandated people without glasses had to stay indoors”.  So this is a case in which the German government required people to remain indoors during the eclipse unless they had proper eye protection.

Suggestion: Why not come out to the Rockwall County Library and enjoy the eclipse on August 21st with the right equipment and knowledgeable people. Our County Library is a fantastic venue to view the eclipse and NASA’s Jet Propulsion lab with which I’ve been affiliated since 2004 is doing a wonderful job providing resources like the ones below.

Eclipse Ground Rules you will be asked to move into a controlled area where the glasses will be distributed and you may view the eclipse safely and hear a narrative. Also, you will be able to look through my two SAFE Solar telescopes to see the Sun and Moon interacting.  I’m going to beat that drum again with a… WARNING: Permanent eye damage can result from looking at the disk of the Sun directly, or through a camera viewfinder, or with binoculars or a telescope even when only a thin crescent of the Sun remains. When 1% of the Sun’s surface is still visible it is about 10,000 times brighter than the full moon. Staring at the Sun under such circumstances is like using a magnifying glass to focus sunlight onto tinder. The retina of your eye is delicate and irreplaceable. There is little or nothing a retinal surgeon will be able to do to help you. Never look at the Sun during a partial eclipse unless you have adequate eye protection, like the kind shown above and described in this column. 

Eclipse Magic and What We Will Observe:

My two solar telescopes provide safe viewing in both natural (white light) and Hydrogen Alpha (Solar Flames) in great detail. When looking through the safety glasses, it’s just like looking at the moon, except it will be passing over the Sun.  You won’t see the same detail as the telescopes, but you will see the advancing and receding eclipse.  When looking though the telescopes, you may be able to see the effect of the terrain on the moon on the solar shadow.  The moon is NOT flat.   But there are some cool phenomena associated with the partial eclipse such as Sun Dapples, Sunspot trickery and more.   I’m really looking forward to a safe event, good weather and most of all….Clear Skies!

Our Universe Today is a column written by Blue Ribbon News special contributor, Max Corneau, aka AstroDad, of Rockwall. Images provided by Max Corneau.

Max retired from the U.S. Army in 2009 as a Lieutenant Colonel, Senior Space Operations Officer and Master Aviator. He amassed over 3,200 hours as a pilot of Special Electronic Mission Airplanes. Since 2004 he has been a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, is a Master of Astronomical Outreach through the Astronomcial League and built his own astronomical observatory. His amazing images can be seen at www.astrodad.com

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