Dear Editor: In the July 15 edition of The Tablet, my eye was drawn to the article “Scientist-Brother, Parish Ready for Total Eclipse.” As a middle school science teacher, this is a topic of great interest to me. While I enjoyed the article, one paragraph was of concern – the one about safely observing the eclipse. I feel the information was not complete and could be easily misinterpreted by readers. I have three concerns:
- My first is that the author states that “Special glasses, which are inexpensive, can be purchased to wear during the partial phase of the eclipse.” While this is true, NASA and other organizations warn that the glasses should meet certain standards (ISO 12312-2) and recommend three reputable companies to purchase from. I also think it needs to be stressed that sun glasses will not work.
- My second concern is the statement that “Once totality begins, it is safe to remove the glasses and take in the glory.” It is never stated that the glasses must be put back on as soon as totality passes. There is just as much danger to the eyes after totality passes, as there is before it occurs – and that is not clear in the article.
- I also believe that there should be more emphasis on the fact that we will not reach totality here in New York and therefore, at no time during the eclipse should protective eyewear be removed.
The damage that can be done to the eyes by looking at the Sun without proper protection, even for a short period of time, is severe – very possibly causing permanent eye damage or blindness. I think it is important that you be as clear as possible about this.
I am looking forward to this event and hope that people will safely enjoy the wonder and awe of it all.