BROOKINGS – On Aug. 21, the greater part of North America will experience a solar eclipse, when the moon blocks the sun from Earth’s view.
While Brookings will not be in the total eclipse path, the community will still have a pretty good show, experiencing a partial eclipse with .91 magnitude. This means, weather permitting, residents will see a majority of the sun’s diameter covered by the moon and experience unnatural darkness in the midday.
The partial eclipse is scheduled to start in Brookings at 11:37 a.m. Maximum coverage will happen at 1 p.m. The total event will be completed by 2:24 p.m., lasting a total of two hours and 47 minutes. While watching a solar eclipse can be a memorable experience, the ophthalmologists at Yorkshire Eye Clinic stress it should be viewed safely so as not to damage your eyes.
“Staring at the sun for even a short time without the right protective eyewear can damage your retina permanently and even cause blindness called solar retinopathy,” Dr. Timothy Minton said.
The safest way to look at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not, is through specially designed solar filters. The solar filters, which must meet the worldwide standard ISO 12312-2, are used in eclipse glasses and hand-held filters.
“People need to remember that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun,” adds Dr. Kenneth Knudtson.
To safely watch a solar eclipse:
“Make sure to help children to use solar filters and eclipse glasses properly,” Dr. Ronold Tesch said. “Also, never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope or binoculars, even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding solar filters. The intense solar rays coming through the devices will damage your eyes.”
To help the community safely view the Aug. 21 eclipse, Yorkshire Eye Clinic is giving away free eclipse glasses on a first-come, first-serve basis. The glasses are available at the clinic front desk between regular office hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The clinic is located at 2311 Yorkshire Drive.
A limited supply of free eclipse glasses are also available from the Brookings Public Library (limit two per family).
They are also available for purchase at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota gift shop, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Casey’s General Stores. The SDSU Society of Physics Students will host a campus viewing session near the west entrance to the Student Union Aug. 21 and will have free eclipse glasses available at that location starting the morning of the event.
When purchasing eclipse glasses be certain ISO 12312-2 (or EN1836) is printed somewhere on them. This certification is used to indicate they are safe for viewing the sun.