Solar Eclipse Charlotte 2017 – Where, When + Safety Tips
When and Where to View the Eclipse
August 21 is approaching fast! In less than a week, the contiguous United States will experience a total solar eclipse for the first time since 1979, and the first to cross from coast to coast since 1918. It will be a remarkable spectacle, with people traveling from all over the country to claim their spot in the narrow band where the moon will totally obscure the sun.
The path of totality enters North Carolina in the Smoky Mountains National Park near Andrews and will continue past Franklin and Murphy. Brevard marks the very northern point of the path.
The middle point of the path of totality enters South Carolina near Clayton. It will pass directly over Clemson and will exit the state on the coast between Charleston and Georgetown. Columbia, Orangeburg, Greenwood and Sumter will also experience totality. Totality will only last around 2 minutes, but the process of the moon covering the sun will take much longer.
Charlotte is outside the path of totality. Viewers in the Queen City will get to see the moon cover 98% of the sun. There will still be a noticeable darkening of the sky and drivers will be distracted enough to make being on the roads hazardous. Viewers in Charlotte will need to make sure that they are wearing eclipse viewer glasses at all times during the eclipse. The eclipse in Charlotte will start at 1:12 PM, totality will be at 2:41 PM with the Eclipse coming to an end at 4:04 PM.
Dangers of Viewing the Eclipse
Even though the sun is partially obscured, your eyes are at great risk from the powerful solar radiation.
If you ever burned leaves using a magnifying glass when you were a child, then you are aware of the heat a few seconds of solar radiation can generate when it is focused onto a small point. The lenses in your eyes work like a small magnifying glass to focus an image onto your retinas. We have all experienced the sensation where we accidentally look up at the sun. Even when we look away the image of the sun is still visible. Our eyes are naturally able to heal themselves from this momentary damage but if the exposure is more prolonged, the injury can be irreparable.
The medical name for sun damage to the eye is solar retinopathy. The retina does not have pain receptors, so the first you will know about the eye damage will be impaired vision. Long term effects of the condition can vary in magnitude, from partial loss of vision to permanent blindness. In extreme cases, exposure to the sun can cause a “macular hole”, which requires surgery to repair.
Children and the Eclipse
The eclipse presents particular problems for parents. The event will be witnessed by millions of children across the country, all of whom are at risk of solar retinopathy.
How to Stay Safe
The only way to safely view the solar eclipse directly is by using certified solar view sunglasses. These special sunglasses block out around 99.9968% of the sun’s visible and ultraviolet light and will make all but the brightest sources of light appear black when viewed through them. The technical term for this level of filtration is ISO 12312-2 and any solar viewing glasses bought from a reputable source should mention this number. There have recently been stories in the news about Amazon canceling listing and recalling counterfeit and substandard solar viewers. To ensure that you are safe, contact Amazon to see if you are one of those affected.
Many people may be tempted to use improvised solar filters to view the eclipse. Candy wrappers, strong sunglasses and standard welding masks can let more than 1000x too much light pass through them. Some welding masks (number 12 and above) may be strong enough, but masks that do not have a number labeled should not be used.
Tips to Stay Safe:
- Inspect your solar filter before use; a scratched filter will let in more light than intended.
- Do not look at the sun without a solar viewer outside the 2 minutes of totality
- Do not look at the eclipse through binoculars, a telescope or the optical viewfinder of a camera
- Always supervise children during the eclipse to ensure that they do not damage their eyes
- Seek expert advice if you plan to take photos of the eclipse. The intense light can quickly damage camera sensors
- If you wear glasses, hold the solar viewer in front of the glasses
- Don’t use homemade filters or normal sunglasses
When to See Your Eye Doctor
If you think you or a family member have accidentally looked at the sun during the eclipse you may experience these symptoms and should contact your eye doctor immediately.
- Experience blind spots or floaters
- Experience warped vision where object appear smaller than they should
- Have a sudden drop in vision
- View regular shapes as being distorted
The solar eclipse is a fantastic opportunity for children and adults to experience one of nature’s greatest spectacles. With proper preparation and care, it can be one of the most memorable events imaginable. For more information about how to safely view the eclipse, contact us today.