Are you ready for the total solar eclipse on August 21?If you live in the continental US, this could be your best opportunity to see such a rare phenomenon!
What Is A Solar Eclipse?
The sun is about 400 times larger than the moon, but it’s also 400 times farther away from the earth, which is why they look the same size in the sky. When they line up with the earth just right, the moon can block out the sun, resulting in a solar eclipse. Anywhere the moon’s shadow falls, we see the eclipse, but it’s only a partial eclipse unless we’re in what’s called the “path of totality.”
What makes this year’s eclipse particularly rare and special is that it is a total eclipse. The moon’s orbit isn’t 100 percent consistent. Sometimes it’s closer to the earth and appears larger, and sometimes it’s farther away and appears smaller. When it lines up with the sun while farther away, the result is an annular eclipse, where you can still see a “ring of fire” around the silhouette of the moon because it isn’t big enough to completely block the sun.
A total eclipse only happens if the moon is closer to the earth when it lines up with the sun, and the only way we can see the diamond ring effect, the sun’s corona, stars during the day, and other amazing effects is during a total eclipse.
What Damage Can The Sun Do to My Eyes?
You never want to look directly at the sun without proper protection. Even during an eclipse when the sun is 99% covered by the moon, its rays are still strong enough to cause serious eye damage or blindness. The ultraviolet (UV) rays combined with the heat emitted by the sun can cause a sunburn of the eye, or even more permanent damage called solar retinopathy. Symptoms may include blurred vision, red eyes, a foreign body sensation or gritty feeling in the eyes, extreme sensitivity to light, and excessive tearing. If you believe you accidentally damaged your eyes due to the solar eclipse, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor.
How to Safely View the Solar EclipseAverage sunglasses are not suitable to protect your eyes while viewing the solar eclipse. There are a few ways to view the solar eclipse without damaging your eyes: