The student news site of Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington.

Upcoming Eclipse and required proper eye safety

Onlookers be warned to protect their eyes from the covered sun

June 16, 2017

There are some events that only come once in a hundred years or twice a year. Eclipses were once symbols to signal an upcoming change, destruction, or simply being eaten by a dragon. Our relative knowledge of the eclipse has been updated, but alas, humans are still mesmerized by that crescent sun.

On August 21st, the Science dome is holding an event for the upcoming solar eclipse. The event will begin at 8:30 am, previewing a short film that will explain the astronomical science behind eclipses. Later, the group will head outside wearing their protective eyewear and view the eclipse at 9:08 am.

The maxim totality of the eclipse will occur around 10:20 am, where the moon will be covering 94% of the sun and can be seen across the country. However, the best place to view the eclipse close to Washington is to head down to Salem, Or., since the eclipse is passing over the midlands of the United States, making a diagonal.

Astronomy professor Hillary Stephens describes this eclipse as a rare event. “We usually have eclipses about twice a year, but they are covering only a little of the sun. This kind of eclipse is quite rare and happens once every one-hundred years.”

The eclipse can get quite dangerous if there is no eye safety. “Just like any time you look at the sun, you could blind yourself,” said Stephens. “Shadows become darker and even if the majority of the sun is covered by the moon, you can still hurt your eyes.”

Some of the ways that patrons can protect their eyes is by wearing a special kind of solar lenses that block out almost everything except the eclipse. There are also pinhole cameras, in which people can poke a hole in a cardboard box, angle it towards the eclipse, and look at the shadows.

Several activities are lined up for the event. Kids and adults can get creative and spell out your name with little crescent eclipses by using a pinhole camera, which is another way to utilize safe eyewear.

If photographers want to safely document this event, they can also get solar filters for their cameras. “If they were to take a picture without any safety filters, their camera would be fried,” said Stephens.

At the event, Science dome employees along with Stephens will be passing out eyewear. Meanwhile, the Pierce library system will be handing out glasses during the summer.

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