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How to view an eclipse safely

How to view an eclipse safely

You likely are aware that Wyoming residents (and visitors) will be treated to a total solar eclipse on August 21—for those who don’t know, the last total solar eclipse in Wyoming occurred in 1918. During a total solar eclipse, the moon moves in front of the sun, covering it completely for a few minutes and darkening the sky. Something that is sure to be quite a sight.

But, did you know that viewing a total solar eclipse improperly can cause some serious damage to your eyes? Check out some tips below to view it safely.

According to the NASA Total Eclipse safety page the only safe way to look directly at the eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses, or hand-held solar viewers. Viewing the eclipse without eclipse glasses causes serious eye injury. For those who don’t know, Gillette will be at 96.7% totality, so you must always use a filter when viewing the sun directly.

The sites goes on to say that homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun as they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight. Do not look directly at the sun unless you have eclipse glasses or viewers that are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard. Eclipse glasses are available through the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce at 307.682.3673 for $3 each.

The Wyoming Department of Health also warns viewers to no look at the eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. You should also not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), which can also cause serious injury.

Other options for safe viewing include pinhole projectors—you can find information about this kind of project here on the American Astronomical Society’s Projection: Pinhole & Optical page.

If you don’t head these warnings, the American Optometric Association’s wants you to know that if your eyes are exposed to excessive amounts of direct sunlight (or ultraviolet radiation) during the eclipse, you could experience photokeratitis, which is a sunburn of the eye. Looking at the sun directly for only a short period of time can burn the retina. Symptoms include red eyes, a foreign body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light and excessive tearing. If you have these symptoms after viewing the eclipse, it is best for you to schedule a visit with an eye doctor.

More information about the total solar eclipse is available at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/

The Campbell County Convention & Visitors Bureau is hosting an Energy Capital Eclipse Festival August 18-21. The event features tours of Contura Energy's Eagle Butte Coal Mine and the Durham Buffalo Ranch, Campbell County School District Planetarium shows, Gillette Main Street’s Eclipse Festival (August 19), a concert out at CAM-PLEX featuring Josh Dorr, Basin Electric Power Cooperative Dry Fork Station Tours and more! Details are available at www.visitgillettewright.com/eclipse/. Like their page on Facebook for updates.