Safety is key as eclipse approaches
NEW ORLEANS -- Looking at the sun anytime, especially during an solar eclipse, will burn your retinas causing permanent damage to your sight.
Orleans Parish Public Schools sent out a warning on the first week of school, making sure children and teachers know about the dangers, but there are ways you can watch it safely on Monday.
In ancient China, around 1500 B.C. the emperor gave a command.
"'Everybody run out in the streets and bang on drums and noisemakers, and make all this noise' because they believed that an eclipse was a dragon eating the sun," explained Dr. C. Gregory Seab, an Astrophysicist at The University of New Orleans.
Today, of course, we know it's the moon's shadow on the earth when it's in between the Sun and Earth. And if you want to see the two and a half minute event, there's the live streaming from NASA or special glasses. To tell if they are real, just put them on. There should be total darkness, inside and out, except for the sun.
"If the glasses are wrinkled, if they're more than a few years old, if they look flawed in any way, just don't take the risk," Dr. Seab said.
Polarized sun glasses will not work. And your cell phone lens, and camera lenses also need to be covered by the glasses or a piece of a solar filter sheet to take a picture of the event. Other eye devices are dangerous.
"Never, ever, ever even glance through a telescope, pair of binoculars, or other magnifying device at the sun, because that can burn your eyes out before you blink," he said.
During the few moments of totality, you can look at the sun, but in the New Orleans area, we will only have a partial eclipse, still showing 20 percent of the sun's brightness. And that is still dangerous.
"It can lead to having a permanent blind spot or gray spot in your vision. You can have overall decreased central vision, or you can have distortion of your vision," said Dr. Lisa Dang and Ophthalmologist at LSU Health Sciences Center.
A hundred years ago, a solar eclipse made Einstein famous with the first test of general relativity. Today the phenomenon still draws professors and physics students alike.
"The truth is scientists love this kind of stuff. That's why there's scientists," Dr. Seab said.
For more on the UNO event, visit their website here.
For more information on solar eclipse viewing methods and safety measures visit NASA"s website here.
For more on free eclipse glasses from public libraries, click here.