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Here Comes The Sun

August 18, 2017

Pro Top: Don’t stare at the sun. You could go blind. No, seriously it would be a problem.

It starts about 10:15 in the morning where I’m at in Salt Lake City. (Actually, I’m about 40 miles South of Salt Lake, but given the size of the sun and the moon, that 40 miles won’t be a big difference.) We’ll see about 90% coverage. I’m thinking it will be be a “banana sun,” where the part of the sun we’ll see looks a little like a banana. Not that I’ll be looking at the sun. Because you know. . .blindness.

Americans love to make a big deal out of anything. And Monday’s eclipse is no exception. Reports are that traffic will be a nightmare. Highway crews will have the day off. Our business has put plans in place to cover for agents possibly calling in sick to watch. (We have one call center directly in the “dark side of the moon” path where it will be the darkest. We normally show call stats on our televisions inside our centers. Monday, we’ll be showing a live feed of the “Eclipse of 2017.”

Just a couple of thoughts on watching this once in a lifetime event.

First, don’t stare at the sun. I know, I know, you’re mother told you that when you were five years old and it’s never really been a point of concern. But, trust me, on Tuesday we’ll hear about the people who just couldn’t resist. There was a story about a man who watched the 1961 solar eclipse. He stared at the sun and he’s still blind. Well, he’s not totally blind, but it did burn his retina and he’s got a blind spot in one eye.

I remember watching a partial solar eclipse a few years ago and using a pinhole camera. That’s my plan for Monday. It’s simple and you can google how to make one. Basically, you take a piece of card stock, put a pinhole in it. That’s the lens. Next, get another piece of card stock to project on it. Stand with your back to the sun. (Because you shouldn’t be looking at it anyway.) Hold the paper with the hole up and let the sunlight through the pinhole fall on the second piece of paper. You will see a reverse image of the eclipse. You might have to move the second paper back and forth a little to get it in focus.

As I said, I used it last time. As I was reading about possibilities for this year, a newstory suggested using binoculars. (No, DO NOT look at the sun with your binoculars that just makes it worse.) But, put your pinhole lens at the eyepiece for the binoculars and point them at the sun and project the image on your other paper like I described above. It’s supposed to make it even better. I might try this.

The other thing I’m planning to try is a colander. You know, like you use to strain spaghetti. Use it for your lens. Apparently you can get a bunch of images of the eclipse as the sun streams through all the holes.

If you are reading this in Europe, or South America, or a part of North America where you cannot see the eclipse, I’m sure it will be on TV. And especially if you are outside the United States, I won’t blame you a bit if you laugh at the crazy Americans who are pretty much putting the country on pause so we can watch.

But, whatever you do, don’t look. Because, safety first!

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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