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Aug. 21, 2017 solar eclipse
Visitors to Morehead Planetarium gather to view a solar eclipse on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Sun., Aug. 21, 2017.
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)
Today, a total solar eclipse will cross North America. During that time, the moon will block a part or all of the sun and create the effect of nighttime during the day. In Chapel Hill, the partial eclipse will start around 2 p.m. with a peak effect around 3:15 p.m. We will only experience approximately 75 percent totality since Chapel Hill is not in the path of totality.

We want to remind staff — particularly our staff members who work outside — that it is not safe to look directly at the sun during an eclipse. NASA reports the only safe way to view the celestial sight is with special solar filters. Dark sunglasses do not provide enough protection against UV rays — they can burn the cornea’s transparent outer layer of cells or damage the light-sensitive cells in the retina at the back of the eye. Though you may not feel pain due to the retina’s lack of pain sensors, looking directly at the sun could still cause damage and partial or full blindness which may develop later.

NASA offers these safety tips for the 2024 Solar Eclipse:

  • Do not look directly at the sun.
  • Solar filters, or eclipse glasses, provide the only safe way to look directly at a partial or total eclipse. Make sure they meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard.
  • Always inspect your solar filter before use. If scratched, punctured, torn or otherwise damaged, discard and do not use.
  • Do not use homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses.
  • Do not look at an eclipse through an unfiltered camera viewfinder, telescope, binoculars or other optical device even with a solar filter. Those items magnify sunrays and can quickly damage the retina.

The Morehead Planetarium is hosting a Solar Eclipse Party today from 12:30 to 4:45 p.m. with both ticketed admission and free outdoor activities.You can also watch the eclipse with UNC Libraries in front of Wilson Library.

Learn more about eclipse safety on the American Astronomical Society Solar Eclipse Across America website.

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