Countdown to Eclipse Viewing: Be Safe
BOSTON -- Today, the moon will cast a shadow 70 miles wide as it slips between Earth and the sun. In Massachusetts, the eclipse will start around 2:46 p.m. and will obscure about 63 percent of the sun's light.
While there's no heightened health risk to just being outdoors during a total solar eclipse, there is danger from looking directly at the sun with the naked eye. Dr. Don Bucklin, regional medical director for U.S. Healthworks, said 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,” Bucklin said, "so even just a little rim of sunshine peeking out from behind that moon is enough to really, seriously damage your eyes."
The viewing party at MIT's Wallace Observatory is sold out, but other local viewing options include the Boston Children's Museum and the Boston and Watertown Public Libraries.
If you can't make it to an event, NASA will show the eclipse in real time on its website, as will the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Bucklin stressed the importance of using the eclipse safety glasses. He explained the eyes work like a magnifying glass - and you could be blinded in about a minute.
"If you're in that total eclipse, you can look at the sun when it's totally hidden by the moon,” he said. "If you're not in that area, well then, looking at the sun will damage your eyes. We're talking about ultraviolet radiation."
This is the first total solar eclipse visible across the U.S. since 1918. For more information on how to safely view it, visit NASA's eclipse safety page.