On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, Thousands of Americans will flock outside to view the total eclipse as it crosses the entire country, coast-to-coast, for the first time since 1918! As beautiful and interesting as it may be to watch, there are safety precautions that should be taken to prevent temporary to permanent injury.
The 2017 solar eclipse will begin near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 10:15 a.m. . Totality ends at 2:48 p.m. EST near Charleston, South Carolina.
During totality, when the sun is completely covered by the moon, it is safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye. But skywatchers should NEVER look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness within a matter of seconds.
Anyone planning to view the 2017 solar eclipse should get a pair of solar viewing glasses. These protective shades make it possible for observers to look directly at the sun before and after totality. The following four companies sell eclipse glasses that meet the international standard (ISO 12312-2) recommended by NASA, the AAS and other scientific organizations: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, Lunt Solar Systems and TSE 17.
Binoculars are helpful for seeing more detail in the solar corona. Telescopes are not necessary, but some skywatchers may use low-powered telescopes to observe the sun's atmosphere during totality. Note that telescopes, binoculars and cameras must be fitted with solar filters before and after totality. Pointing an unprotected lens directly at the sun can damage the instrument. NEVER look at the sun through binoculars, a telescope or a camera lens without a solar filter -- the magnified light can damage your eyes faster than looking at the sun unaided.
Ironically, Aug. 21, 2017 may be one of the worst traffic days in national history, some NASA representatives predict. Although about 12 million people live within the narrow band of totality, approximately 25 million reside within a day's drive of it, and the agency has estimated that the population inside the path of totality may double on the day of the eclipse.
With that in mind, make sure you plan for extra travel time, especially on the day of the eclipse. Most hotel rooms inside the path of totality have been booked for months or years ahead of time, so you may not be able to stay inside the path the night before.
When selecting a location where you plan to view the eclipse, keep in mind your proximity to food, water, parking and facilities. Attending an organized eclipse event is an ideal way to make sure those things are close by. Traveling even short distances could be difficult in some areas, and midday in the middle of August can mean punishing heat in many parts of the country.
If you don't get a chance to witness this year's solar eclipse, don't fret! In 2024, a total solar eclipse will darken the skies above Mexico and Texas, up through the Midwest and northeastern U.S.
For more information about the Solar Eclipse visit Space.com