CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- On Monday, August 21 locations all over the country will have a front-row seat to the Super Bowl of events for astronomers: a total solar eclipse.
During a total solar eclipse the moon moves in front of the sun casting a shadow back on the Earth. Only the very edges of the sun are visible and the skies at midday will grow dark for a few minutes.
However, looking into the sun or the eclipse is very dangerous, and will damage young eyes in just seconds.
"The sunlight has harmful ultraviolet radiation. If you stare directly at the sun, or at an eclipse it can cause permenant damage to the eye." said Dr. Omar Punjabi, with Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates. "This is thankfully preventable. Make sure they have their glasses on and are supervised at all times because kids have a higher rise of getting solar-retinopathy than adults."
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Solar Retinopathy is the name for damage to the back part of the eye, or 'retina' by looking at the Sun. The Sun's harmful rays burn a hole in the layer of the eye that takes in light. The retina can not be replaced, or repaired says Dr. Punjabi.
So to view the eclipse safely NASA says to use 'Solar Eclipse Glasses.' They look like 3-D movie glasses, but have much stronger filters.
While many places sell eclipse glasses, NASA says they must have the following to provide full protection:
- ISO Certified with the international code: 123122
- Manufacturer Logo & Address on the Side
- Less than 3 years old
- Perfect Condition with No Scratches
NASA suggests purchasing 'approved' glasses online.
If you want to take a picture of the eclipse your camera will also need a special filter to prevent damage to the camera's sensor. Camera's manufacturer should have details to prevent damage.
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