Safely watch the total eclipse - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Safely watch the total eclipse


For many, the total solar eclipse is a once in a lifetime sight. 

There are safe ways to see it, but your eyes can be damaged if you're not careful.

"It can cause problems such as photokaratitis, which is an inflammation of the cornea, the front surface of the eye, which is very similar to a sunburn on the skin," said Dr. Kyle King, Optometrist with Evansville Eye Care Associates. 

It can also lead to cataracts or a much more serious condition called photoretinitis.

"You can get lasting effects from that, such as blind spots in the eye or decreased visual clarity, permanently," said Dr. King.  

And it doesn't take very long to cause damage. 

"If you're looking at the sun without any magnification objects, damage can occur within 30 seconds. If you're looking at it through binoculars or a telescope, damage can occur within a fraction of a second." 

If you are in an area experiencing the total solar eclipse, you will have up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds where you can look directly at it. Time will vary depending on your location and you can only look directly at it without eye protection when the moon has completely blocked the sun. Areas outside the path, like Evansville, will have to use eye protection the entire time.

Sunglasses won't reduce the light enough.  Evansville Astronomical Society's Mike Borman says one safe option is solar eclipse glasses.   

"They block out 99.9 percent of the light," said Mike. "The only thing that will get through is the image of the eclipse sun." 

You could also get goggles to cover your eye-glasses or special eclipse filters for binoculars, but there's an even cheaper option.

"If you don't want to spend any money at all, all you've got to do is go underneath a tree with a nice leaf canopy," said Mike. "The opening in the leaves hitting the ground will form little images of the eclipse all over the ground." 

You also wouldn't need any special eye wear to see something called shadow bands.

They happen when the sun peeks through the mountains on the moon.

"If you have a white table cloth stretched on the ground, you'll actually see these shadow bands go streaming across that as the sun is disappearing."

The Evansville Astronomical Society will be doing eclipse presentations and solar observing leading up to the eclipse.

NASA has additional safety viewing tips on their website.

You can purchase eclipse viewing glasses and solar filters for telescopes and binoculars at the following websites:

Eclipse Glasses:

Telescope Filters:

Mike Borman has given several presentations on this year's total eclipse. You find the information from those presentations here.

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