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Want to look at the eclipse? Do it safely, or not at all

Want to look at the eclipse? Do it safely, or not at all

Aug 8, 2017 - From staff reports

Wyoming residents and visitors of all ages hoping to enjoy the August 21 total solar eclipse should take steps to protect their eyes, according to a Wyoming Department of Health expert.

"We know many Wyoming communities will be treated to a total solar eclipse, and that's something to be excited about," said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state epidemiologist and acting state health officer with WDH.

"Eye safety is very important in those specific areas and beyond because all of Wyoming will experience a solar eclipse of more than 90 percent 'totality' that morning."

During a total solar eclipse, the moon moves in front of the sun, covering it completely for a few minutes and darkening the sky. The last total solar eclipse in Wyoming occurred in 1918.

"While staring directly at the sun is never good, the temptation to look at the sun during the eclipse will no doubt be strong for all of us, including for children," Harrist said. "If you're going to look at the sun from anywhere in Wyoming without protection, your eyes could be damaged."

Harrist noted that the only safe way to look directly at the unclasped or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers.

"Ordinary sunglasses, even if they are very dark, will not allow you to safely look at the sun," she said.

Eclipse glasses are available in many stores and other businesses across Wyoming this month and at Wyoming eclipse-related community events.

To do the job, eclipse glasses or solar viewers should:

Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard;

Display the manufacturer's name and address;

Not be used if they have scratched or wrinkled lenses or are older than three years.

"It's also important you do not look at the sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or similar device," Harrist said. "You also should not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars or other device while also using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer. The concentrated solar rays can damage the filter and seriously injure your eyes."

Harrist said other options for safe viewing include pinhole projectors or other projection techniques, certain welding hoods, or specialized solar filters for telescopes.

Comprehensive information about the eclipse, including more details about safe viewing, can be from NASA at https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/.

Information about viewing the eclipse in Wyoming, including maps and location details, is available at http://www.travelwyoming.com/Eclipse.

Editor's note: The Ranger is selling eclipse glasses supplied by the University of California-Berkeley Department of Astronomy for $1, which covers our cost. Also, watch for The Ranger's eclipse guide on Wednesday, July 16.

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