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Steal my sunshine

Solar eclipse causes excitement, some schools cancel classes

With a virtually once in a lifetime total solar eclipse happening on Monday, officials are warning of scams and medical professionals are offering safety tips. Locally, there will be viewing events. Some schools are using this as a teaching event, others cancelled classes for it.

According to NASA, solar eclipses happen about every six months and total eclipses happen around every 18 months, somewhere in the world. But the one on Monday is rare in that for the first time since 1979, the path of the moon’s shadow passes through the continental United States. The nearest point for people in southern Ohio to go to see the total eclipse is in southwestern Kentucky, starting near Bowling Green, Kentucky.

On Monday, a total eclipse will be viewable throughout a 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina. The Tri-State area will only have a partial eclipse of 75 percent.
Schools in the area are handling the eclipse in different ways.

In Lawrence County, students from the STEM+M Academy will be heading to Huntington’s Marshall University campus. They are going to help with the event and create informational posters about the eclipse

At South Point Elementary, they are going to give the students protective glasses and then go out into a field to view the eclipse, according to administrative assistant Bill Christian.

In Greenup and Ashland, officials cancelled school on Monday because they don’t want the liability of students getting injured while watching the eclipse. In Cabell County, the schools are letting students out an hour early so they can watch the event.

The Boyd County Library in Ashland will be having a viewing event for kids with music and space-themed snacks.

The next time a total solar eclipse will be visible over the U.S. will be on April 8, 2024 with a path crossing over western Ohio.

Dr. Linda Chous, Chief Eye Care Officer for UnitedHealthcare, said for people in Ohio, the eclipse coverage will exceed 75 percent.

Chous, and all medical professionals, tell people not to look directly at the sun during the eclipse.

Chous said that looking at a solar eclipse without proper protection can cause serious eye damage, including blurry vision that can last months, or even permanent problems.

“The most important tip is to have proper eclipse-viewing glasses, which are heavily tinted – much more so than regular sunglasses – to protect your eyes as you look at the sun,” Chous said. “Certified eclipse-viewing glasses will enable you to see the moon track across the orb of the sun until it creates a total eclipse, revealing the sun’s brilliant corona.”

The American Optometric Association offered several tips:

• It is unsafe for anyone to look directly at the sun at any time or during a solar eclipse.

• Do not look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses, as the concentrated solar rays can damage the filter, enter your eyes and cause serious injury.

And as with any event, there are people looking to make a quick buck by offering inferior products they claim are as good as the real thing. In this case, there are many places offiering “solar glasses” that offer no protection.

“Ohioans of all ages are intrigued by the upcoming solar eclipse, but safety needs to be a priority to avoid permanent eye damage,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “We want consumers to be informed before buying solar eclipse glasses.”

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) warns that it has received reports of fake solar eclipse glasses being sold. These glasses do not properly filter the sun’s rays, and, in turn, may damage a person’s eyes. Previously, glasses with the seal of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) were considered safe. While all acceptable glasses are ISO certified, there is a chance that counterfeit glasses may also claim to be ISO certified.

For more information on the eclipse, including safety and other information, go to https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/