On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of the United States will have a solar eclipse. The moon will cover at least part of the sun for 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through, anyone within a narrow 70 mile wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse – and we here in Sylva are in that path! The moon will completely block the sun’s bright face for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds turning day into night and making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona — the Sun’s outer atmosphere — one of nature’s most awesome sights. Bright stars and planets will become visible as well.
The only safe time to look at an eclipse with the naked eye is during the total phase of a total eclipse. And even then, you must always use eye protection any time any piece of the Sun’s bright disk is visible. It is never safe to look at the partial phases of an eclipse, or the sun in general, without proper protection. Permanent damage to the retina in the eyes can be done by viewing the sun directly at anytime other than the brief 2-3 minutes of the total phase. Be sure to wear proper eye protection in the form of eclipse viewing glasses. To date, four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and hand-held solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17. Come by the office to pick up the Rainbow Symphony or the American Paper Optics viewers for you and your family.
Also, 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.