The Great American Eclipse 2017

Bob Gecy - (August 17, 2017)

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In a few days an uncommon, intriguing, and exciting astronomical event is going to cast its shadow over the upstate, and across our whole country from Oregon to South Carolina! Of course, it is the total eclipse of the sun by the moon.

Totality, the 100% covering of the sun, will last approximately two minutes and 40 seconds as it passes over Greenville. The eclipse will start around 1 PM and will end just after 4 PM. Most of us will not in our lifetimes witness another chance to see a total eclipse…but viewers beware! According to Dr. Julius Welborn III, Division of Ophthalmology Greenville Health System, watching the partial eclipse for a minute or two and maybe even less can cause permanent damage to your retina. Watching as the eclipse approaches totality becomes easier as the moon crosses the sun but the risk increases.

The damage is called solar Maculopathy. It is caused by the light energy from the sun burning our retinas, especially when our vision is focused. It is probably safe to glance up occasionally for a second or two, but why take the risk? It is safe to look at the totality (100% coverage of the sun) because all of the intense light is blocked, and only a ring called the solar corona, a feathery light can be seen. But be careful, get some eclipse glasses. They should have an ISO filter rating 12312-2. With them the sun and the moon can be viewed for up to three minutes at a time, intermittently for hours without much risk of injury. Be careful, be smart, have fun, but protect your eyes!

Editor’s note: As the upstate prepares for the 2017 eclipse, several communities are planning special events to host viewers for the August 21 lunar and sun event. And as stated in the paragraph above special viewing glasses should be worn. Many organizations have been distributing glasses for little or no cost and many businesses have been selling ISO rated eclipse viewing glasses. Sadly, Amazon admitted that some of the glasses that were sold initially have been proven to be forged and may not provide the protection necessary for viewing the sun’s rays. To be efficient in protecting your eyes the lenses should only allow you to see the bright sun and nothing else. When in doubt, test your glasses before watching the eclipse. Certified eclipse-viewing glasses have language on the back indicating that they meet the appropriate safety. If you don’t see that certification, don’t use the glasses!  If the solar filters on your glasses are scratched or damaged, discard them and do not use them. Sunglasses, cameras, binoculars or telescopes without appropriate filters are not safe for viewing the eclipse. Find more eye-safety tips from American Astronomical Society at eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/safe-viewing.

With many options available in the upstate to view the eclipse a unique venue will take place at the Happy Trails Cowboy Church. You can experience the solar eclipse on horseback with your cowboy friends. Even if you don’t attend the Cowboy Church or own a horse come anyway! There will be concessions, music, and an evangelistic message about the special Friday when darkness fell over the land. This once-in-a-lifetime event will offer the availability to view the eclipse with other equine members. Cowboy Churches from South Carolina North Carolina and Georgia have been invited to attend this momentous event.

Bring your horses to ride during the 3 hour event on August 21 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Negative Coggins required for horses). Total eclipse will last approximately 2 min., 35 sec. and totality ends at 2:37 p.m. Enter the entrance from Hwy 25 South, Pelzer (below Dollar General) and follow the road to the arena. There is plenty of parking area. .Be sure to purchase a pair of solar viewing glasses to protect your eyes.

In another unique local event, the city of Mauldin plans and afternoon called “Lights Out Mauldin”!   Billed as the Upstate’s Best Solar Eclipse Viewing Party! This event will be held at Sunset Park, 211 Fowler Circle, Mauldin on Monday, August 21st from 11:30 until 3:30 pm.   Appropriate glasses for viewing the eclipse will be provided, while supplies last!   However, reservations must be made prior to this date in order to have enough supplies to provide!  Many special things are already planned to make the day so FUN!  99.5 Chuck FM will be on site broadcasting!  Food trucks will be on hand to allow you to purchase lunch and snack. (debit cards or cash will be accepted)  

This is a free event; however, registration and a parking pass ARE Required. If you need special viewing glasses for the eclipse; you may contact the Mauldin Chamber of Commerce Office prior to the date of the event. For more details, please check www.mauldinculturalcenter.com

With all the events planned across the country to view the eclipse the best view is going to come from 250 miles up as the international space station’s crew will cross the eclipse three times. During the eclipse the space station will rotate around the world every 90 minutes, about the time it takes the sun to cross the United States. With special lenses, the crew will be able to photograph this great American eclipse and share those photos at no cost on the NASA website. NASA plans to provide four hours of eclipse coverage, starting at noon EDT, on the agency’s satellite television channel, in web streams and via social media, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

*For a more exciting adventure, educate yourself by looking up these eclipse phenomena: shadow bands, Bailey’s Beads, and the Diamond Ring!*  Stay Safe, have fun, make a memory!

 The path of totality will cross 12 states…Where will YOU be?♦

 

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