To view or not to view…

First off, sorry I’ve been MIA for a few weeks. I’ve had a lot going on, which I may or may not post about at a later date. And it seems I have a draft of a blog post that somehow never got published. Whoops.

More time-sensitive right now is the solar eclipse coming up… Maybe you’ve heard about it?

Monday, August 21 (my mama’s birthday) the United States will be directly on the path of a solar eclipse. Sadly, not Toledo, where I am, but it should still be a pretty cool experience. (FYI, Toledo is on the path of totality for a solar eclipse in 13 years… I hope to be around to see that one!)

First, a warning:

IT IS NOT SAFE TO VIEW A SOLAR ECLIPSE WITHOUT SPECIALLY DESIGNED GLASSES

That said, there is a lot of debate going on about if even that is safe.

First of all, there has been word that there are many scams going around… People/stores selling “solar eclipse glasses” that aren’t actually certified safe.

Rule #1: Only glasses shade 14 or higher are “safe” for viewing the sun.

Welding masks are tinted dark, but 14 is one of the darkest out there and not that common. When I put my solar eclipse glasses on, I can see nothing. Literally, it’s black. If I look at the sun, it’s a small orange circle. Looking at a lightbulb, it looks to be a very faint orange.

I have known about this eclipse for at least a year (I “like” a classical astronomy facebook page, http://www.classicalastronomy.com (that’s the name of the facebook page and a non-facebook website by the same guy…no “http://” needed, but I can’t figure out how to get rid of that in this post), that keeps me up to date on astronomy goings-on) I didn’t order my certified solar eclipse glasses until mid-July, and foolishly didn’t pay attention to Amazon Prime 2-day shipping. My order was set to arrive between August 14 and August 31.

In case you didn’t notice, the eclipse occurs smack dab in the middle ofthat delivery window. How pleased I was to learn the Toledo Lucas County Library had free certified solar eclipse glasses offered on a first-come-first-served basis! I snapped up 8 the day after I got the email about this deal.

Then my order arrived earlier than the scheduled time. August 5, actually. Way earlier than planned. That was a pleasant surprise.

Then Amazon sent me an email. They are unable to verify the certification of my solar eclipse glasses, and they recommend not using them. They even refunded my money, that’s how serious they were.

I had ordered a pack of 25 glasses with the intent to give them to my friends who were late to the game of finding some glasses (in anticipation of places selling out). They were cheaper to buy in bulk than to only order the 8 that my family would need (really not even 8… Zeke is 10 months old and oblivious, and Phoebe, who just turned 2, is probably not going to care either. There is debate how much the 3, 4, 5, and 7 year old care too, but at least the older ones may be able to participate in viewing the event at any rate.) I have still been passing out my non-certified solar eclipse glasses with the disclaimer of their certification status. Some have been willing to risk it, others have not. I totally understand. Personally, we will be using the glasses from the library.

Rule #2: Even with specially designed solar eclipse glasses, it is only safe to view the eclipse for about 3 minutes.

That’s probably lifetime total there, but the chance to view eclipses seem to be pretty rare… Unless you’re one of those people who travel the world to view eclipses. There are actually people who do that. Kind of like tornado chasers, only eclipse chasers.

In Toledo, the eclipse will start at 1:09 pm, peak at about 85% totality at 2:27 and end at 3:48. I Googled it. Timeanddate.com seems like a reliable source…

I have a busy Monday morning, but I plan to join some like-minded people at the Challenger Learning Center in Oregon, Ohio in the afternoon. If the babies are sleeping, that many less children improperly viewingthe eclipse I have to worry about.

Why the big deal about properly viewing the eclipse, you may ask. My husband has admitted to looking at the sun with his bare eyes before, and his vision is 20/20.

Interesting factoid: our retinas cannot feel sunburn. By staring at the sun, even for a brief second, the rods and cones in the back of our eyes that help is see begin to burn from the radiation that pours out of the sun. After a while, these spots can permanently burn a round hold in the retina resulting in partial to goal blindness, similar to macular degeneration (which my grandma has… Basically a permanent blind spot directly in front of you with only the periphery vision in tact). Not fun.

Now… The point of my post. Even though I have solar eclipse glasses that I trust, I don’t fully trust my children to properly use the glasses. What’s a mama to do!?

I have 2 options, and if I can find a box big enough, I’ll try the second option. But first… Paper-plate blinders.

Using a paper plate, ruler, xacto-knife, and scissors, I made these bad boys. I plan on hot-gluing the glasses to the blinded too, but that will be the final step.

There are slits so the glasses fit perfectly in, and I measured with the ruler to make sure the squares I cut out line up with the lenses of the glasses. And I used scissors to cut out the nose/mouth area. All I have left to do is hot-glue the glasses in place.

But first… Some decorating.

Ethan

Naomi

Olivia

Daniel

Naomi, for Phoebe

Ethan, for Ezekiel

And because I couldn’t be left out, even though I’m the least likely to need the blinder…

Naomi, for me

My second option is to design a pinhole camera.

This seems to be the safest first-hand way of viewing the eclipse. My biggest challenge is finding a box big enough. A diaper box is probably big enough, goodness knows we regularly go through diaper boxes, and I used to be a huge supply-hoarder if I thought something could possibly be used in any way as a supply at some point in our homeschooling journey… But my husband has been working on keeping that to a minimum. Because, you know, space issues.

I’d like us to at least make one; I know I won’t be able to make one-per-child, though.

The next most safe way is to view it second-hand, via TV. That just seems not as fun. And not as home-school-sciency.

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