Going Dark

The nation, and the world, will soon experience the celestial phenomena of a total solar eclipse. Barring weather, on Monday, Aug. 21, all of North America will be able to witness at least a partial eclipse, with multiple cities along the pathway going completely dark as the shadow makes its way from the Pacific Northwest, to the southeast Atlantic region of the country.


Herald Editor

A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. A total solar eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun’s light, leaving only the emitting outer light visible.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the last total eclipse occurred in the United States on Feb. 26, 1979. And the last one to cross the entire continent was almost a century ago, on June 8, 1918.

The lunar shadow will first touch the U.S. on the west coast at 9:05 a.m. and the first city to experience the darkness will be Lincoln City, Ore., at 10:15 a.m. PST With Charleston, S.C. being the last city to be cast in the dark shadow of the eclipse at 2:48 p.m. EST

Eleven spacecraft and over 50 NASA-funded high-altitude balloons—along with numerous ground-based observations and citizen scientists will be monitoring the scientific impact of the eclipse.

“The hair on the back of your neck is going to stand up and you are going to feel different things as the eclipse reaches totality,” said Brian Carlstrom, Deputy Associate Director of the National Park Service Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Directorate. “It’s been described as peaceful, spiritual,exhilarating, shocking. If you’re feeling these things, don’t worry, you’re experiencing the total eclipse of the sun.”

The total eclipse will be viewable on a pathway 70 miles wide that crosses 14 of the 48 contiguous states of the U.S.

Unfortunately the region of southwest North Dakota will not be in that 70-mile wide pathway. But, residents of this region will have some of the best views in the state.

According to an interactive map, offered by NASA, viewers in this region can can witness the beginning of the eclipse at about 10:28 a.m. MST, and experience an 88 percent obstruction of the sun’s light. Peak of the eclipse should hit the region at about 11:49 a.m. MST and be finished by about 1:15 p.m. MST.

Viewers should be wary about the eye safety when viewing. West River Health Services Optometrist John Kludt, said that you will need special glasses to look at the phenomena without damage to your eyesight.

“The proper way [to view the eclipse] is with the specially designed filtered lenses,” Kludt said. “[The lenses] would be a special combination of coatings or tint that will eliminate or dramatically reduce to a less harmful level, the potentially damaging rays emitted.”

According to Kludt, the damaging rays have a tendency to burn the macular area of the eye—which is the inside of the eye—if left unprotected. This can cause irreversible scarring.

“The solar eclipse is one of natures grandest events, and to be viewed and enjoyed safely,” Kludt said.

Multiple resources regarding eye safety can be found on www.Eclipse2017.NASA.gov. The American Optometric Association also have some resources available about safety and what to know when purchasing protective eyewear.

Glasses must meet international standard ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. Sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters are unsafe. If you can’t find eclipse viewers, build a pinhole projector to watch the eclipse. Instructions can be found online at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory website. From the main site— www.JPL.NASA.gov—click on ‘Learn’ on the right menu tab and then navigate through the ‘Education’  section to find the instructions.

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