Column: Get your popcorn ready … and your eclipse glasses | News

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If you’re planning to watch the Great American Solar Eclipse, you’ll need some special glasses.

Eclipse glasses are not expensive and are a must if you want to gander at the big event Aug. 21.

And you probably will want to look.

Even if you are one of those folks who doesn’t give a darn about an eclipse, when everyone runs outside to marvel in the mystery, there is a chance you will want to as well.

Of course, if it’s a cloudy day, most of this will be mute!

What we will see from the Ada area will be known as a partial eclipse.

You can find eclipse glasses online at various Internet retailers, but I purchased several pairs recently at Ada Wal-Mart. I can’t say exactly how many pairs they have remaining, but there were approximately 60 pairs left Thursday that I could see.

Each pair was a dollar plus tax. Pretty good considering they cost a little more online.

The Ada Public Library was distributing free eclipse glasses, but it ran out.

No one should look directly at the sun. I learned that the hard way as a child during a partial eclipse in 1978.

According to National Aeronautics and Space Administration, “Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse ‘totality,’ when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality.”

And the Ada area will not be in that path of totality. The moon will obscure the sun to the degree of about 83 percent for those in our area. And even though the experts say we will see a partial eclipse, I would call 83-percent blockage a “mostly eclipse,” lol!

So make sure you get your glasses. Otherwise, while everyone is oohing and aahing, you’ll be left not being able to look up, grumbling about how you don’t care or you are above such nonsense.

The eclipse’s path of totality will run from Oregon to South Carolina. For the Ada area, the best time to view — I believe — will be around 1 p.m. But I’m certainly no expert on this matter, so check out our Guide to the 2017 Total Eclipse included with this column (scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the PDF) and judge for yourself when you need to run outside and see day turn into night. Well, not exactly night. Since we will only see 83 percent coverage, maybe like sunset in the middle of the day?

And even if it’s cloudy, it will be interesting to see it get nearly dark around lunchtime.

The American Astronomical Society has issued a list of reputable vendors of solar filters and viewers. Visit https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters to view this list.

The eclipse glasses I purchased were made in the U.S.A. by American Paper Optics, LLC — which is on the AAS list.

After purchasing them, I of course tried them out. You can’t see anything through them except very bright light. I looked directly at the sun. The sky was blacked out, and the sun was a little glowing orange orb. Kind of neat, but something I’m going to do everyday.

For more on safely viewing the eclipse, visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

For more information on the eclipse in general, visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/.

According to the NASA, homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight.

Here are some safety tips, courtesy of NASA.

• Always inspect your solar filter (glasses as well) before use; if scratched or damaged, discard. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.

• Always supervise children using solar filters.

• Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.

• Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.

• Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.

• Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.

•  Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.

• If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

NASA says if your eclipse glasses or viewers are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, you may look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through them for as long as you wish. Furthermore, if the filters aren’t scratched, punctured, or torn, you may reuse them indefinitely. Some glasses/viewers are printed with warnings stating that you shouldn’t look through them for more than 3 minutes at a time and that you should discard them if they are more than 3 years old. Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015.

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection, according to NASA. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse; you’ll see the ground dappled with crescent suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.

•  It won’t be the end of the world.

Some believe the eclipse is a sign of the apocalypse. The end of days. The beginning of the end of the world. But I don’t buy into conspiracy theories.

The moon will block the sun’s rays for a short time. Then the rays will come back, and we will all go back to work so we can pay bills and taxes.

I laughed and laughed when I recently read a Facebook post issued by Oconee County, Georgia, Sheriff Scott Berry. He is known for issuing comical posts. The following is his take (unedited) on the events of Aug. 21.

“Sheriff Scott Berry announces that on Monday, August 21, at about the time your kids are riding home from school on the bus that there will be a solar eclipse of the sun as celestial forces no one understands will blot out the sun. It is very likely this is the end of life on this planet as we know it.

“As your Sheriff I expect each of you to begin panicking today. There is no need to wait til Sunday night to buy bread and milk. The shelves will be empty already as vast hordes descend on grocery stores. If you wait, the only thing left will be potted meat and knock off brand cereal with such names as ‘RaisinO’s’ and ‘CheeriBran’.”

Don’t look at the eclipse, unless, of course, you live in the backwoods of Tennessee. In that case, no one will hear you scream as you stumble blindly into a moonshine still or a bear trap. Millions of Americans are blinded every week by staring directly into the sun, eclipse or not. Don’t do it.

Your sunglasses will not protect you from certain death if you look at the sun. However, for a mere $29.99 (plus $9.00 shipping and handling), you can order “stare directly at the sun wearing these” glasses from NASA and the Home Shopping Network.

Pregnant women should smoke and drink liquor during the eclipse. This will prevent radioactive waves from making your ankles swell and being grouchy most of the time. Meanwhile, your other children will be on the school bus, wondering why it got dark so early. An afternoon snack of potted meat will encourage then to ignore the end of the world as we know it.

Leading scientists tell us that post-eclipse, the only two things they expect to survive are cockroaches and Facebook. Wait, is that one thing or two things????”

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