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Total Eclipse Viewing? Wear Protective Glasses

On Aug. 21, Marylanders will get to see an almost full eclipse of the sun. (
On Aug. 21, Marylanders will get to see an almost full eclipse of the sun. (
August 14, 2017

BALTIMORE – One week from Monday, the moon's shadow will block the sun from view in a total solar eclipse.

The moon will cast a 70-mile-wide shadow by slipping between Earth and the sun.

It's causing a lot of excitement because it's the first one in 99 years.

While there is no risk to health just by being outside during a total eclipse, there is danger from looking directly at the sun with the naked eye.

Dr. Don Bucklin, regional medical director for U.S. HealthWorks, says it's not only uncomfortable, it can cause damage to the retina, the light-sensitive part of the eye.

"The sun is 400,000 times brighter than the moon, so even just a little rim of sunshine peeking out from behind that moon is enough to really seriously damage your eyes," he points out.

On the East Coast, the eclipse will start shortly after 1 p.m. and reach totality just before 3 p.m.

Several places around Maryland, including some public libraries, are holding viewing parties and many offer free safety glasses.

If you can't make it to an event, NASA's website will be showing the eclipse in real time, and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington plans to be online live from the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory, answering questions about eclipses.

Bucklin stresses the importance of using these safety glasses, saying your eyes work like a magnifying glass, and you can be blinded in about a minute.

"If you're in that total eclipse, you can look at the sun when it's totally hidden but the moon,” she explains. “If you're not in that area, well then looking at the sun will damage your eyes. We're talking about ultraviolet radiation."

According to NASA. Maryland will have partial coverage, with about 80 percent of the sun covered during the event, the first total solar eclipse visible across the U.S. since 1918.

For more information on how to safely view the eclipse, visit NASA's eclipse safety page.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD