On August 21 2017 a solar eclipse will cross most of the USA.
First, don’t stare at the sun with those bargain “Eclipse Shades” you bought on a whim. You could go blind and not know it until the next morning.
Second, you don’t need to look at the sun to experience the visceral wonder of how much our sun effects us and our world.
But let’s dig into my first point, and understand why Eclipse Shades are a poor risk. Simply put, they are not dark enough.
What causes sun blindness? The same thing that causes skiers “snow blindness”, only more so. The intensity of the Ultraviolet light will damage your retina, just like it burns your skin. But unlike visible light that makes you squint, UV light is invisible, so your squint reflex fails to protect you until it is too late.
What about those “Eclipse Shades” with all the official looking specifications and labels?
Unfortunately, those labels protect the sellers from “Tort” suites, not your eyes. It is noteworthy that Amazon has issued a recall for the ones they sold.
But isn’t it possible to use really dark filters, like the astronomers use, and look directly at the eclipse?
Yes. In fact the lens plate of the darkest arc welding face shield might work. But those are so dark that the only thing you can see is a welding arc, or the sun. The rule of thumb for those masks is, if you can see you surroundings, it ain’t dark enough.
“But this is a once in a lifetime event, and we don’t want to miss it!”
There will be plenty of live video of the moon eclipsing the sun available on your smart phone, via the Internet. Net Neutrality has not been compromised… yet…
Still, the greatest wonder of an eclipse will be all around you. The wonder will be how it effects you and the world around you.
If it is a clear day, your mind will tell you that it is cloudy, or dusk. The temperature will drop. The wind may rise. Birds will go quite. Night animals may come out. Your rational and emotional mind may be caught up in the conflict with your senses, and it can be euphoric.
It is a great moment to recognize our world is, and always has been, powered by our sun.
Our climates, and thus our agricultures, depend on it. Always have and always will.
But even the man made fuel industries are dependent on it. The fossil fuel industry taps into solar energy that has been stored and locked away for millennia. It took geological time periods to build up the energy stores that modern life is dependent on. But it all originated with our sun.
In the wonderful experience of this eclipse, take a moment to get a visceral experience of the energy our sun baths this world in daily.
Take a moment to understand how much solar energy we are bathed in. And that we are now capable of directly capturing, storing, and using that energy to expand our better life.
Solar energy is this world’s greatest “Public Commons”. Take a moment as an American to “feel” what that means.
Protect your eyes, and those of your loved ones. Enjoy the wonder of this eclipse.