Where to Spot the Best Views of this Super Rare Solar Eclipse & Why It’s Really Dangerous
Today marks something spectacular in our universe, it’s a day where our sun and the moon align. A total solar eclipse will cross the United States from coast to coast on Monday, starting just after 10 a.m. local time in Oregon and ending just before 3 p.m. in South Carolina.
— NASA (@NASA) August 21, 2017
The last time an eclipse traveled across the entire country was in 1918.
Where the views are best ↓
The New York Times suggests that states like Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming would have favorable skies, while Nebraska and South Carolina faced the prospect of clouds and storms.
Well + Good shares 12 mesmerizing places to in the US to view this super rare solar eclipse, see here for the full list and enjoy these points below:
- Around 1:15 p.m. Eastern time, the total solar eclipse will first reach Oregon’s coast.
- At about 2:49 p.m. Eastern time in South Carolina, some lucky souls in the Palmetto State’s marshes could be the last on American soil to experience the total eclipse.
- Here in New York when the maximum eclipse occurs around 2:44 p.m. Eastern, the sun will be just over 70 percent obscured
- Just after 4 p.m. Eastern, the partial eclipse will end and all of America will again be under the full August sun.
Why it’s dangerous to view without protection ↓
I’ve seen so many articles talking about ways to view and what to expect. But I think, one of the most important things to note is the effect it can have. This morning, my cousin who is a teacher in Canada sent us a quick breakdown that’s worth sharing. In an Aug. 18 article for JAMA Ophthalmology, two eye experts explained what actually happens to your eye if you look at an eclipse. There are two types of damage sunlight can inflict:
- One is “direct thermal injury,” caused by near-infrared radiation, meaning the light can literally burn your eye. Because you can’t see that type of light, and because your retina—the light-sensitive tissue lining inside your eye—doesn’t have pain receptors, the damage can occur without you even knowing it.
- But the more concerning sort of damage is called photochemical toxicity, and it results from the light you can see. As that light passes through the eye, the normal chemical processes within the eye generate free radicals and what are called reactive oxygen species. In excess, as happens when your eye gets hit with a direct shot of sunlight, those atoms can destroy your retinal tissue. The article’s authors cite a 1999 study of eclipse burns from the UK that photochemical toxicity was the more frequent cause of sun-induced retina damage, known as “solar retinopathy.”
They go on to explain that as it happens, young adults—perhaps especially young males—are those most likely to suffer these eye injuries from the eclipse. “Although a clearer lens [in the eye] that is more permissive to transmitting visible light may contribute to this finding, a more likely explanation may be a simple misunderstanding of the danger of viewing an eclipse without proper protection or misuse of that protection,” the authors write.
Those who want to watch the 2017 eclipse, or photograph it, need to make sure they take the proper precautions. Looking through a telescope, binoculars, or a camera lens without the right eyewear isn’t safe either. The event will only last a few minutes, but the damage it can cause could last a lifetime.