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Take care not to damage eyes during must-see solar eclipse

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Scientists and science geeks alike agree the upcoming total solar eclipse is must-see viewing, but watching all the action go down is not without danger.

Looking directly at the sun during this rare event could be dangerous for your eyes.

“Taking a few easy precautions will protect your eyesight while you enjoy this special occurrence,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University consumer and housing specialist.

Observers of the highly anticipated Aug. 21 total solar eclipse should use a pair of special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or solar viewers, that meet international standards for safe viewing.

Ordinary sunglasses and homemade filters are not safe to use. The uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun also should not be viewed through unfiltered cameras, telescopes, binoculars or other optical devices.

Eclipse glasses or solar viewers should not be scratched or damaged before using them. Read and follow the instructions printed on or included in the packaging.

During the eclipse, before looking at the sun, cover your eyes with the glasses or viewers while standing still, glance at the sun, look away and then take off the viewers.

Only remove the viewers when you are no longer looking at the sun.

The only time it is safe to look at the sun without the solar viewers is during the total phase of the eclipse, or totality, when the moon completely blocks the sun. Totality will briefly occur within an approximately 70-mile-wide stretch from Oregon to South Carolina for up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun. While solar eclipses are rare events, this one will be even more unusual as it will be visible throughout the entire North American continent.

The eclipse will last 2 to 3 hours.

For more information about safely viewing a total or partial solar eclipse, visit, or contact the nearest county Extension office.

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