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August 14, 2017

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Eclipse '17: Don't Underestimate the Danger to Unprotected Eyes

Although Maplewood Richmond Heights School District students won't quite be back in classes yet, parents are urged to make sure they know how their kids are planning to view the August 21 solar eclipse, with an eye on safety. 

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality.  The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight.

Approved eclipse glasses will be marked with ISO and CE on the back.  This signifies they are certified for safe viewing. 

NASA offers these additional eclipse viewing tips:

  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Similarly, do 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), causing serious injury.
  • Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
  • If you are within the path of totality (https://go.nasa.gov/2pC0lhe(link is external)), remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.

  • Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.

  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

You can find much more helpful information on the big event by clicking these links:

https://dese.mo.gov/communications/eclipse

https://www.slsc.org/james-s-mcdonnell-planetarium/great-american-total-solar-eclipse/

https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/activities/nature-viewing/2017-solar-eclipse

For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.