View with Caution: Total Solar Eclipse 2017

Posted by Steve Rowe on

There’s been plenty of movies and television series professing the mystical superpowers and unexplained phenomena which occur during a solar eclipse. For the upcoming eclipse on Monday August 21st the facts are: there is a powerful force that occurs and it's truly dangerous. Gaze up at this marvel for just a few seconds and you could be doing irreversible harm to your eyes.

When Moon completely blocks the Sun, daytime becomes a deep twilight, and the Sun’s corona shimmers in the darkened sky that’s the moment of vulnerability. Solar eclipses are dangerous because the sun can come out from behind the moon and "surprise you" before you have a chance to look away. And this is actually even worse than when you normally look away from the sun because during the total eclipse, it is dark out, and your pupil therefore dilates so that it can let in enough light to get a good picture. Then, when the sun reappears and starts flooding the area with really bright light, not only are you staring straight at it, but your eye is in a state where it is wide open, and actively trying to let in as much light as possible.

The physics behind it all works like this. Sunlight is a portion of the electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun, in particular infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light (UV). Visible light is a form of electromagnetic (EM) radiation, as are radio waves, infrared radiation, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and microwaves. Generally, visible light is defined as the wavelengths that are visible to most human eyes.

There are three types of UV radiation. UV-C is absorbed by the ozone layer and does not present any threat. However, UV-A and UV-B radiation can have long and short-term negative effects on the eyes and vision. UV-B rays can destroy the outer cells of the cornea – the eye’s protective surface – causing pain and blurred vision. UV-A rays damage the eye’s lens and can harm the sensitive retina at the back of the eye and the macula, causing macular degeneration and permanent blindness.

We’re passionate about providing superior optics to our customers so that they can view any celestial phenomena, astrology or any other application with absolute clarity. Esco was founded to advance curiosity in the world of optics and universal exploration. We’ve come a long way, but we haven’t lost our focus. For over 60 years our motto has been “where passion meets precision.”


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