SOUTHERN INDIANA — “Turn don’t burn”
That’s the phrase the Louisville Astronomical Society is using to teach people how to put on and remove their special glasses when a 96 percent solar eclipse comes to town Aug. 21.
You must make sure that you’re turned away from the sun, from approximately 1 to 4 p.m., when you slip the glasses on and that you’re turned back around when you take them off.
“If you get exposed to the unfiltered, unprotected sun by just staring directly at it you can damage your retinas,” said Tom Bibb, a member of the LAS.
That damage can cause blindness in some cases.
Eclipse glasses are available for just around $1 at Walmart or Lowe’s, said Ken Alderson, the president of the LAS, but why buy them when you can get them for free all around the Louisville metropolitan area in the coming weeks?
Thanks to a donation from the American Astronomical Society and a financial contribution from the group itself, the LAS is giving away around 100 at each of its events.
They’ll be available at:
• Tom Sawyer Park at 8 p.m., July 29
• Turkey Run, Broad Run and Beckley Creek parks at the Parklands of Floyds Fork from 1 to 3 p.m. July 30
• Falls of the Ohio State Park from 2 to 3 p.m. Aug. 6
• Jeffersonville Township Public Library at 6 p.m. Aug. 16
Other organizations, including the Rauch Planetarium and WAVE 3, will be giving away the glasses at the Kentucky State Fair.
If DIY is your thing or you don’t want to look directly at the sun, NASA also recommends making a pinhole projector with two pieces of white card stock, aluminum foil, tape, scissors and a pin.
Here’s how to make and use one:
• Cut a square hole into the middle of one of the pieces of card stock
• Tape a piece of aluminum foil over the hole
• Poke a hole into the foil with the pin
• Place the second piece of card stock on the ground and hold the piece with aluminum foil above it with the foil facing up. You can view a projected image of the sun by standing with your back to the star and projecting its image onto the card stock on the ground
The farther away you hold your card stock, the bigger the image will be. Make the image more defined by placing the card stock on the ground in a shadowed area while holding the other piece in the sunlight.
Other options for viewing the eclipse are through a number 14 welder’s mask or through a telescope with a solar filter.
Just be careful if you’re buying solar glasses to make sure that they are certified with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard. NASA has warned that some Amazon.com sellers are offering non-certified glasses that say they are.
The glasses should meet the following criteria:
• Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
• Not be used if they are older than three years or have scratched or wrinkled lenses
• Not be used if they're homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses. No matter how dark the sunglasses are, they aren’t safe
A definite do is taking the time to catch the eclipse, Bibb said — and possibly even traveling to see the total eclipse in Kentucky.
“The reason to look at it is because it’s amazing,” Bibb said. “It’s totally light then it’s totally dark. The animals think that it’s nighttime so they’re real quiet.”