Solar Eclipse 101: How to safely view the big solar eclipse

© 2017-Kemmerer Gazette

Solar eclipse shades that are safe for viewing the eclipse can be obtained for free at the Lincoln County Public Health offices in Kemmerer and Afton. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Michelle Tibbetts)

Looking directly at the sun, in general, is not recommended, but it will be hard  to resist when the once-in-a-lifetime event Great Northern Eclipse occurs on August 21, 2017. Whether you plan on being in your backyard, looking out the window at work or possibly sitting on a mountaintop, there are a few things you need to know about safely viewing a solar eclipse.

According to the Department of Public Health, you should never look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Regular sunglasses do not offer enough protection against the solar radiation. The only safe way to look directly at the un-eclipsed or partially-eclipsed sun is to wear special solar filters.  Be sure you are using certified eclipse shades that meet the correct safety requirements to prevent severe eye damage.

You can obtain a free pair of approved solar shades from the local Lincoln County Public Health offices in Kemmerer and Afton, as well as any Lincoln County Library.

There are five stages to a solar eclipse. Follow these recommendations for a safe, fun and successful solar eclipse experience.

1. PARTIAL ECLIPSE: GLASSES ON – The eclipse begins when the sun’s disk is partially blocked by the moon. This phase can last over an hour.

2. BAILY’S BEADS: GLASSES ON – As totality approaches, only the low-lying valleys on the moon’s edge allow sunlight through, forming bright spots of light called Baily’s Beads.

3. DIAMOND RING: GLASSES ON  –The last of the sunlight streaming through the moon’s valleys creates a single bright flash of light on the side of the moon. This is known as the diamond ring effect, and it marks the last few seconds before totality begins.

4. TOTALITY: GLASSES OFF – Once the diamond ring disappears and the moon completely covers the entire disk of the sun, you may look safely at the eclipse without a solar filter. Be careful to protect your eyes again before the end of totality and keep in mind the total eclipse may last less than a minute in some locations.

5. FINAL STAGES: GLASSES ON – A crescent will begin to grow on the opposite side of the sun from where the Baily’s Beads shone at the beginning. This crescent is the lower atmosphere of the sun beginning to peek out from behind the moon. This is your signal to stop looking directly at the eclipse. Make sure to put your safety glasses back on before the first flash of sunlight appears around the edges of the moon.

Keep in mind that the Kemmerer area is not in the totality zone. You should never remove your protective eyewear unless you have traveled to  a 100 percent totality zone to view the eclipse.

August 02 2017 - Eclipse - News Release