Take care when watching solar eclipse

in Contributors/Lee Scott/Voices by

By Lee Scott

In the summer of 1963, I was living in Ohio and experienced my first solar eclipse (although it was only a partial).

I remember it clearly because my father, the nuclear physicist, was in the backyard hours before the designated time. He was making a homemade Box Pinhole Projector.  

This contraption consisted of a cardboard box, a sheet of white paper, a pin to hold up the paper and a few other items that truthfully, I do not recall. 

My thought at the time was: Why should I look at a cardboard box when looking up in the sky would be so much fun? My father assured us that we would damage our eyes if we looked up during the eclipse and anyone not willing to follow his instructions would be sent, immediately, into the house. 

Now, over 50 years later, and I am awaiting another solar eclipse.  

According to the Weather.gov site, the place in our area to see this event is the Charleston area on Monday, Aug. 21. The total solar eclipse will take place around 2:48 pm.  

And social media is buzzing with people planning to visit those cities where they can witness the event. Some are even planning parties.  

For us in Beaufort, we will only experience 98.7 percent of the solar eclipse, which is close enough for me. I also think sitting in my backyard might be more fun too than driving somewhere. 

And, like my father, I am getting ready for this rare phenomenon.  

When I first started to see these special solar eclipse glasses advertised, I wondered why I could not just wear my own sunglasses. My Maui Jim’s have polarized lens. They were developed in Hawaii.  They cost me a bunch of money. 

But no, I heard my father’s voice ringing in my head.  I broke down and bought the approved solar eclipse glasses. They are on sale now all over and some libraries are even giving them out for free.  

Check the ISO rating. According to the NASA site, there are certain requirements. Mine are the approved ISO 12312-2. They look very cheap and weigh about a 10th of an ounce.

Beaufort County schools are going to be closed on Aug. 21. I am not sure if it was planned, but it is a good idea not to have over 21,000 students getting off school buses that afternoon. The temptation to look at the sun during the solar eclipse is natural.  

So, get ready, pick up some of those sunglasses or make a Box Pinhole Projector and pray for good weather.