With rain and clouds in each day’s forecast for the next two weeks, what better opportunity to talk about our closest star, the sun. Our area will be slammed with tourists from all over the globe 10 days from now when the chances are still good we’ll get to watch a total solar eclipse. I think it is going to be a hoot but the most important thing about the mysterious phenomena is that watching it can cause serious, irreversible eye damage.
Scientists at NASA are scared to death of an eye condition called ‘solar retinopathy’ and every school teacher and preacher in range of this story should emphasize to every one they can – most particularly the youngest – not to dare watch the eclipse without special glasses. Regular sunglasses will definitely not work and the safest bet is to get on Amazon or another provider and buy a package of “certified solar eclipse sunglasses.”
This isn’t some joke nor a way to part a fool and his money. Read what LiveScience.com says:
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WHAT CAUSES SOLAR RETINOPATHY
“While it may be tempting to brush off warnings against looking up at this eclipse bare-eyed, don't: The light of an eclipse really can damage your eyes — though warnings of total blindness are likely overstated.
“The condition is called solar retinopathy, and it occurs when bright light from the sun floods the retina on the back of the eyeball. The retina is home to the light-sensing cells that make vision possible. When they're over-stimulated by sunlight, they release a flood of communication chemicals that can damage the retina. This damage is often painless, so people don't realize what they're doing to their vision.
“Solar retinopathy can be caused by staring at the sun (regardless of its phase), but few people can stand to look directly at our nearest star for very long without pain. It does happen occasionally — medical journals record cases in which people high on drugs have stared at the sun for long periods of time, causing serious damage. Adherents of sun-worshiping religious sects are also victims. In 1988, for example, Italian ophthalmologists treated 66 people for solar retinopathy after a sun-staring ritual.”
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WHAT PREVENTS SOLAR RETINOPATHY
The quick answer is Amazon, where I ordered five pairs of solar eclipse glasses ($24.95) that are CE and ISO certified. These are made of cardboard but have thick plastic lens that are stronger than welder’s goggles. Approved by NASA and the American Astronomical Society, the Lunt Eclipse Sunglasses are manufactured in Germany and filter out 100% of harmful ultra-violet, 100% of harmful infrared, and 99.999% of intense visible light and are 100% safe for direct viewing of the Sun and Solar Eclipses.
Don’t worry about the fact they are made of flimsy cardboard. The last time a total solar eclipse was seen in the contiguous United States was Feb. 26, 1979. According to NASA, the next annular eclipse will be on Oct. 14, 2023, trackable from northern California to Florida. About a year later, on April 8, 2024, a total eclipse will track on a northeast path from Texas to Maine.
The entire eclipse – already being marketed by t-shirt sellers as the “The Great American Eclipse” -- will last only two and a half minutes. This is the first coast-to-coast eclipse in the United States since 1918.
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FOR THE SOLAR ECLIPSE CONNOISSEUR
The cone of the eclipse is about a 70-mile swath so it will be barely visible in Chattanooga. But Spring City, about 54 miles from Chattanooga up Highway 27 (17 miles past Dayton) is the closest place directly on the totality line. Both Spring City and Dayton have big events planned and Spring City is actually having a weekend festival next week leading up to the Monday event.
The total eclipse will be at 2:31 p.m. in Spring City and scientists believe it will last two minutes and 21 seconds. For the serious watchers the maximum point of the eclipse will be in Hopkinsville, Ky. at 1:20 p.m.
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A FABULOUS OBITUARY OPPORTUNITY
I don’t know if it is true or not but I am told there is a bar-and-lounge on the outskirts of Spring City that will provide a great obituary line for the price of the product. The waitress will give one and all a signed statement, this that funeral homes will accept, to attest “Bobby Joe once drank a beer during an eclipse.”
Now just how many can lay claim to that?