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Solar Eclipse

On Aug. 21, 2017, all of North America will experience a solar eclipse. Clemson is one of the great places to be since it's within the path of totality and will experience a total solar eclipse – the moon will completely cover the sun. This is the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years, so everyone is awaiting it’s arrival. Clemson is even planning a free "Eclipse Over Clemson" event!

While viewing the solar eclipse is exciting, looking directly at the sun can cause severe, permanent damage to your eyes. See the safety tips below, and learn how to protect your eyes while viewing the solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun. The moon blocks the sun’s rays and casts its shadow on earth. A solar eclipse can only occur during the new moon phase of the moon cycle. This is because the sun and the moon have the same ecliptic longitude during this phase. A solar eclipse is rare because there is narrow path the moon must travel in order to block the sun’s rays. A total eclipse happens roughly every year and a half somewhere on the planet, while a partial eclipse happens about twice a year somewhere on the planet. During this particular eclipse, the eclipse will experience totality (the moon entirely obscuring the sun’s rays.) Even though the eclipse spans across the entire continental U.S., only a 70-mile-wide path between Oregon and South Carolina will experience a total solar eclipse. 

In Clemson, the totality of the eclipse will begin at 2:37 p.m. and last 2 minutes and 37 seconds.

Many people do not realize the dangers of looking directly at an uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun because the illumination levels seem comparable to twilight. However, looking directly at the sun can cause severe, permanent retinal damage. There are no pain receptors in back of your eyes, so you can't feel the damage when it occurs. Watch the video below to learn more.

1. Only view the eclipse through protective eyewear.

To protect your eyes from the sun's damaging rays, you must wear appropriate protective eyewear. Regular sunglasses are NOT safe for looking directly at the sun, and should not be used when viewing the eclipse. The only safe way to view an uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters known as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Never use your eclipse glasses if they are scratched or damaged. Put on your eclipse glasses or solar viewers before looking up at the sun. After viewing, turn away from the sun before removing your solar filter; do not remove your eye protection while looking at the sun.

It is safe to view a total solar eclipse without a filter ONLY during the brief phase of totality (when the moon completely blocks the sun). However, it's best to keep your solar filters on at all times because it can be hard to tell when it's safe to view with the naked eye. Bright points of light (known as Baily's Beads) shine around the moon's edges as the moon moves in front of the sun, and it's not safe to look at the eclipse without a solar filter when this occurs. Only when all of the sun's bright spots completely disappear can you safely look at the sun without eclipse glasses. For this reason, it's best to just wear your eclipse glasses or solar viewers at all times. You'll still have a great view of the solar eclipse! Learn More

Clemson University will be giving out up to 50,000 free pairs of solar glasses at various locations on campus on Aug. 21. Clemson faculty, staff and students can pre-order glasses by email at eclipse@g.clemson.edu. You will receive a return email telling you when and where you can pick up the glasses.

2. Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through unfiltered optical devices, even when you're wearing eclipse glasses.

Unfiltered cameras, telescopes, binoculars and other optical devices concentrate the sun’s rays and can cause severe damage to your vision. It is NOT safe to view the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through unfiltered optical devices, even when you're wearing eclipse glasses – the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter on your eclipse glasses and seriously injure your eyes. If you wish to view the eclipse through a telescope, camera, binoculars or other optical device, make sure it's fitted with a special solar filter on the front of the device; it's best to seek advice from an astronomer. 

3. Stay hydrated.

August 21 should be another hot summer day. While enjoying the fun "Eclipse Over Clemson" events, make sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Bring a water bottle to refill throughout the day, and take breaks in the shade as much as possible. Also, don't forget to wear sunscreen, sunglasses (before the eclipse) and a hat to protect your skin and eyes while out in the sun. 

Learn More About How to Safely View the Solar Eclipse

Learn More

Eclipse Over Clemson

NASA Total Solar Eclipse Website

NASA Resource Flyer

Garner, R. (2016, March 04). Eye Safety During a Total Solar Eclipse. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from URL

Lunar Eclipses and Solar Eclipses. (2017, June 20). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from URL

R. C., MSc, OD. (1997, April 11). Eye Safety During Solar Eclipses. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from URL

Safety Total Solar Eclipse 2017. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2017, from URL