Next Monday, August 21st, is the day of the Great American Eclipse! Luckily, North Carolina is a great state to watch the event. Today’s wellness blog will give you tips to safely view the eclipse, and a few ideas to get people out and active in your parks.
If you remember from elementary school science class, a solar eclipse is when the moon moves in between the sun and the earth (Click this link for more information). This creates a stunning view and is sure to get people outside flocking to parks. The solar eclipse next week is a rare one with all 50 States being able to view the eclipse, and some areas (including a few counties in western NC) being able to see the event in 100% totality.
In North Carolina, all of our counties will be able to experience the eclipse with at least 75% totality.One great resource to map out how the eclipse will look in your town is Vox.com. Type in your zip code and the website will show you how much of the sun will be blocked out, what time the event will occur, how long it will last, and more.
The eclipse brings a great opportunity to our state, and particularly our parks. Weather permitting, people will want to get outside to view the event. Below are a few things for you and your department to consider for the event next week.
Viewing the sun safely is a huge concern during the eclipse. According to NASA, “It is never safe to look directly at the sun's rays – even if the sun is partly obscured. When watching a partial eclipse you must wear eclipse glasses at all times if you want to face the sun, or use an alternate indirect method. This also applies during a total eclipse up until the time when the sun is completely and totally blocked.” It is important to note that standard sunglasses are NOT eclipse glasses and will not give you the protection you need. Please take the appropriate precautions when viewing the eclipse, and encourage your community to as well.
If you are planning on taking anyone (especially children) who are enrolled in your programs outside to experience the event, it is very important that they are taught to properly view the eclipse. As discussed earlier, viewing the eclipse without proper eyewear can be very dangerous. Share educational resources and knowledge about not looking directly into the sun. I would also recommend sharing safety information with the children's parents or guardians regarding the eclipse. Additionally, It’s a good idea to practice wearing approved eclipse glasses or viewing the event through a pinhole camera.
A great way to get people outside and active in your parks for the eclipse is to let the public know the great places to view the event. Find a place in one of your parks that has an un-obscured view of the sun. Great places could be over a lake, beach front, river, open field or a high elevation hill without total tree coverage are ideal! Places with a short hike or walk involved are a great way to get people active. Once a location is selected, take to social media to tell people the desired locations. In these social media posts, be sure to include information about safely viewing the eclipse.
Additionally, if you purchased or are planning to purchase eclipse glasses, you need to make sure they are from a NASA approved vendor. A full list of reputable vendors of solar eclipse glasses can be found here. If it turns out that your eclipse glasses are not reputable, there is still time to purchase some! Try calling around to hardware stores, libraries, gas stations and big stores like Walmart or Toys R Us to see if they have any in stock. You also want to make sure your eclipse glasses are not scratched or damaged in any way. Even a small scratch or hole on the lenses can cause serious damage to your eyes. If planning on actually distributing glasses to your community, it may be a good idea to consult your legal department.
If you do not have eclipse glasses to use and are not planning on purchasing any, there are still a few options that will allow you to safely view the event. One easy way is to make a pinhole camera out of paper, foil, and tape. This would also be a great craft to bring to your department. Set out supplies and instruct people on how to make their own viewer! Then, go outside and practice safe viewing techniques. When using this method, stand with your back to the sun. This craft could be set up a table in a park or facility on the eclipse day to ensure that everyone has the means to safely view the eclipse.
I hope that you have a fun and safe eclipse viewing experience! If you or your department are doing anything cool for the eclipse, I’d love to know about it! I’ll be camping in Bryson City, NC to see the eclipse in totality. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any cool eclipse program ideas! Hopefully, we get good weather throughout the state!
Until next time,