2017 Solar Eclipse: How to enjoy while keeping your family safe

August 15, 2017

By: Dr. Eric Levene, Chester Pediatrics (Whiteplains, NY)

The Solar eclipse, August 21, is a rare occurrence in the continental United States. Use this opportunity to stimulate your child’s interest in science while creating a bonding experience you will talk about for years. Just make sure to take the proper safety precautions (described below) to protect your eyesight.

During a solar eclipse, the moon appears to completely cover the sun producing a shadow that falls on the earth.  At this time, the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, becomes visible. Do not look at the partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, binoculars, or telescopes. NEVER look at the eclipse with your naked eyes. Any glimpse of the suns brightness is not only uncomfortable, but it is dangerous. Your eyes could be severely damaged and might blind you. For more information use this link https://www.preventblindness.org/solar-eclipse-and-your-eyes

If you plan to watch the eclipse you should get a pair of solar viewing glasses. Sunglasses cannot be used in place of these special glasses. If you are using solar viewing glasses always inspect them for scratches and damages. If they are damaged, do not use them. Recently it was reported that many supposed solar eclipse glasses are not really approved for eclipse viewing. Use this link to check your brand. https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety

Keep an eye on your children. Make sure they keep their glasses on if you have them. Have them look at the shadows of a leafy tree. They will see lots of little crescent suns on the ground. Another way to view the eclipse with your children is through pinhole projection. This a safe and inexpensive way to view the eclipse and have fun with your kids. The project includes using cardboard and paper. The associated link is a video to help making this project. https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/how-make-pinhole-projector-view-solar-eclipse.

During this eclipse the shadowed sun will sweep a 70 mile wide path across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina in 94 minutes with a total solar eclipse. All other areas will have a partial eclipse. In the New York metropolitan area the eclipse will begin at 1:23 pm with the maximum partial eclipse at 2:44pm and ending at 4:00pm.

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