What you need to know about the coming solar eclipse

Total Solar Eclipse

Total Solar Eclipse

On August 21, a Solar Eclipse will occur, blotting out the sun for residents of Nashville and many more throughout Tennessee. However, many people are unfamiliar with exactly what a solar eclipse is and what its affects are.

According to N.A.S.A, a solar eclipse happens: “When the moon orbits earth, it moves between the sun and earth. When this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching earth. This causes an eclipse of the sun, or ‘solar eclipse.’ During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow onto earth.”

Solar eclipses can be an interesting, cool, and even beautiful sight, but must be viewed with special glasses that allow the wearer to safely look at the sun. NASA has sent out alerts explaining about “unsafe eclipse glasses being distributed by unscrupulous companies.”

While these glasses may come from many vendors and sources, N.A.S.A states in an article titled ‘Eclipse 101’ that glasses should meet the following requirements and conditions: “have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard; have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product; are not be used if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses; not use homemade filters or be substituted for with ordinary sunglasses, not even very dark ones because they are not safe for looking directly at the sun.”

N.A.S.A also cited additional safety information for actual viewing: “Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. 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 glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter. Do not remove it while looking at the sun.

“Do not look at the un-eclipsed 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.”