Next Monday’s Eclipse Could Cause a Few Problems

On Monday, 21 August 2017, there will be a massive total eclipse of the sun, which will sweep across the U.S. beginning in Oregon about 10:18 a.m. Pacific Time and ending about 2:48 p.m. Eastern Time in South Carolina. Check out the NASA eclipse maps here.

A few commentators have opined some rather superstitious drivel about the eclipse. No, it’s not a sign that some catastrophe is about to strike the U.S. Eclipses are relatively common natural events. However, this eclipse is unusual in that the path of the total eclipse sweeps across the continental U.S. from coast to coast. And pretty much all of the lower 48 States will be able to see at least a partial eclipse during daylight (and work time) hours.

The webcomic XKCD here points out that: “There were traffic jams for the eclipses in 1970 and 1979, and that was *before* we had the potential for overnight viral social media frenzies.” When the eclipse occurs, it is possible that many people on the road might pull over or slow down, causing massing traffic jams and possibly spiking traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities like never before.

Another possible problem is eye injuries. Do NOT look directly at the sun at any time, not even during an eclipse. The light from the sun is intense enough to burn out the retinas of your eyes. Eclipse viewers should watch out for solar retinopathy, experts say

A related problem is that some solar eclipse viewing glasses do not provide sufficient protection for your eyes. Amazon issues refunds to customers who bought counterfeit solar eclipse glasses.

“Last week, Fred Espenak, retired NASA astrophysicist and photographer, told ABC News that he has heard rumors of counterfeit glasses being sold online.

“Espenak, NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) suggest that consumers purchase off the AAS’s approved list of companies that manufacture and/or sell eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers, which have been verified by an accredited testing laboratory to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.

“They’ve been put through a testing procedure to demonstrate that they’re dark enough to prevent visible as well as ultraviolet and infrared light from passing through it,” Espenak said.”

Stay safe, people!

– Thoreau

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