Health & Wellness

Safety Tips for Monday's Solar Eclipse

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Eclipse as viewed by projection method, using the viewer's fingers. Credits: eclipse.aas.org
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BRANCHBURG, NJ - On Monday, May 21, the United States will experience its first solar eclipse since 1979.

Kevin Schindler, Planetarium Associate and Technician at the Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium offered TAP and its readers safety advice for those who are going to view the event.

"Never look directly at the sun," said Schindler. "The best way to view a solar eclipse safely is to wear certified solar eclipse viewing glasses." The specialized glasses block dangerous infrared and ultraviolet rays, according to Schindler. The glasses also block most of the visible light.

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"Be sure that they are certified solar eclipse viewing glasses," he continued. "Sunglasses, no mater how good they may be, are not substitutes for the viewing glasses."

Sun glasses will not offer a dark enough tint to protect the viewer's eyes, according to Schindler.

Without certified viewing glasses, there are safe ways to observe projections of the eclipse, but Schindler emphasized again, "do not look at the Sun at any time."

Schindler recommended the "projection method" for viewers who are unable to obtain certified eclipse viewing glasses. To use the projection method, the eclipse viewer stands with his or her back to the sun. While facing away from the sun, the viewer then makes a waffle-shaped shadow on the ground with his or her fingers.  The projection of the eclipse will then appear in as a crescent in the shadow.

Eclipse projection method:  See photo

There are other projections available that the eclipse viewer can obtain through a web search, but Schindler repeated, "No matter what; don't look directly at the Sun."

The RVCC Planetarium offers a free and safe eclipse viewing on Monday.  The college has sold approximately one thousand seven hundred pairs of eclipse glasses and will have a limited supply available on Monday. Schindler suggests eclipse viewers bring their own glasses, if possible.

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