On Monday afternoon, Aug. 21, a solar eclipse will affect an estimated 500 million people across North America as the moon passes between the sun and Earth. During that time, the moon will block a part or all of the sun and create the effect of nighttime during the day. Chapel Hill is not in the path of totality and will experience approximately 95 percent totality. The full effect of the eclipse in any one place will last only a couple of minutes. In Chapel Hill, the partial eclipse begins at 1:15 p.m., with the peak eclipse occurring at 2:43 p.m. The partial eclipse ends at 4:05 p.m.
Students, faculty and staff — particularly staff members who work outside — should be aware 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 2017 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 standard.
- Make sure the solar viewer or glasses include the manufacturer’s name and address.
- Do not use solar glasses that are older than three years or have scratched lenses
- 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.
- Employees and students cannot use building roofs for viewing.
The Morehead Planetarium is planning a solar eclipse party for the 21st, and heavy vehicular and pedestrian traffic is expected on campus. Please plan accordingly and recognize that traffic congestion and the unusual darkness that will fall on the campus due to the eclipse may mean that those working outdoors or making their way across campus and town during the afternoon may need to take extra time and safety precautions.
- Morehead Planetarium & Science Center: Solar Eclipse Information and Activities
- Transportation & Parking Event Parking Information
- Illuminating facts about the coming solar eclipse (interview with UNC stellar astrophysicist and astronomer Chris Clemens)
- How to View the 2017 Solar Eclipse Safely