christopher consultants, ltd.

safety matters: the 2017 solar eclipse

christopher consultants has an extensive corporate safety program that provides personal protection equipment to all field personnel. This program is overseen by Mr. Federico Tersoglio who works with the staff to ensure understanding and implementation of all safety procedures. In addition, Federico routinely produces “Safety Matters” content to educate employees and clients on relevant safety topics. Read more safety matters and stay safe on the job!

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible (weather permitting) across all of North America. The whole continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through the event, anyone within a roughly 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse, when the moon completely blocks the sun for up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. This turns day into night and makes visible the otherwise hidden solar corona — the sun’s outer atmosphere — one of nature’s most splendid sights. Bright stars and planets will become visible, as well.

A total solar eclipse offers you a unique opportunity to see a natural phenomenon that illustrates the basic principles of mathematics and science that are taught in school, and is probably the most spectacular astronomical event that most people will experience in their lives. There is a great deal of interest in watching eclipses, and thousands of astronomers (both amateur and professional) travel around the world to observe and photograph them.

An eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won’t want to miss.

Like any other country does when their team plays during the World Cup, people will stop driving, working, exercising, and playing to watch this event.

You must carefully follow safety procedures for the observation of the eclipse. Don’t let the requisite warnings scare you away from witnessing this singular spectacle! You can experience the eclipse safely, but it is vital that you protect your eyes at all times with the proper solar filters. Do not stare continuously at the sun. Take breaks and give your eyes a rest! Sunglasses will not offer your eyes sufficient protection.

Observing the sun can be dangerous if you do not take the proper precautions. Exposure of the retina to intense visible light causes damage to its light-sensitive rod and cone cells. There are more than 100 documented cases of serious and permanent eye damage that were due to people staring too long at a solar eclipse.

Staring at the sun during a solar eclipse isn’t much different from staring at the sun on a normal day. The difference is that most of us have a natural reflex to look away from the sun if we stare too long. Usually, people will glance at the sun and then look away quickly. However, in events like these, it’s possible for you to override that aversion reflex.

Thermal burn is caused by looking at the sun through a telescope or through other optical aids, which can cause a temperature rise of 18-45 degrees Fahrenheit (10-25 degrees Celsius) in the retina.

People who sustain eye damage from staring at the sun may have difficulty seeing details, though they may have no awareness of the injury until a day later. No pain receptors fire when the injury occurs, and vision may be normal for several hours afterward, as damaged cells slowly shut down.

Unless you’re one of the few people who are in the path of totality of the solar eclipse – meaning the moon completely blocks out all the light from the sun – you are at risk of sustaining damage from staring at the eclipse without eye protection.

And a regular pair of shades will not be sufficient. Solar eclipse visors or glasses, which typically reduce the amount of light reaching the eye by a factor of 250,000, are necessary to cut down the intensity of the light to safe levels.

One of the most widely available filters for safe solar viewing is shade number 14 welder’s glass, which can be obtained from welding supply outlets. A popular inexpensive alternative is aluminized mylar manufactured specifically for solar observation.

Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.

To date five manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

It’s important that you make sure you use these devices properly. Put them in front of your eyes, then look at the sun. Never remove the filters while looking at the sun until the moon completely covers up the sun.

 Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter. Always supervise children using solar filters.

  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter – do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer. The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.
  • If you are within the path of the total eclipse, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face, and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.

People should take the glasses off once they decide to drive or walk home. These filters are very dark, and everything but the sun disappears when you look through them.

Follow these easy tips and safely enjoy the 2017 solar eclipse!