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Safety Tips for Viewing Today's Total Solar Eclipse

Safety glasses protect the eye from damage from looking at the sun. (Getty Images)
Safety glasses protect the eye from damage from looking at the sun. (Getty Images)
August 21, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- Today, the moon will cast a 70-mile-wide shadow across much of Wyoming and the nation as it slips between Earth and the sun, and it's causing a lot of excitement.

While there's no heightened health risk to just being outdoors during a total eclipse, there is danger from looking directly at the sun with the naked eye. Dr. Don Bucklin 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 path of the total eclipse will make its way through central Wyoming and span more than 365 miles, from Wilson and Jackson on the west side of the state through Casper to Torrington and Lusk on the east side. 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.

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 explained. "If you're not in that area, well then, looking at the sun will damage your eyes. We're talking about ultraviolet radiation."

In Wyoming, the partial phase of the eclipse will begin around 10:15 a.m. and totality will begin at 11:24. Several places around the state are holding viewing parties and many offer free safety glasses.

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

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY