Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lucia Solar Eclipse [UPDATE]

The sun feels a lot colder right now as I write this at 10:40 am.

Here in New Zealand, just north of Wellington, we are not experiencing a total eclipse as the lucky people in Cairns, Australia have. However, the moon covering most of the sun is causing quite a dimming of light that is significant and it feels physically colder.

I had a chat with my children last night about whether or not they could look at the eclipse without protection, and I told them they could, but only a glimpse and it would be better not to look. When I was growing up I was told not to look at eclipses at all, otherwise I'd go blind. However, telling children that they will go blind is more harmful that telling them to be cautious, according to the article from Mental that I quote below. There are no extra-ordinary rays that come out of the sun during an eclipse, but it is still the sun and looking at the sun for too long will damage your eyes, so treat it the same way.

Wouldn’t It Be Easier Just to Tell Your Kids They Will Go Blind?

NASA’s website tackled this question. Their short answer: that could ruin their lives.

“A student who heeds warnings from teachers and other authorities not to view the eclipse because of the danger to vision, and learns later that other students did see it safely, may feel cheated out of the experience. Having now learned that the authority figure was wrong on one occasion, how is this student going to react when other health-related advice about drugs, alcohol, AIDS, or smoking is given?”

I had a brief look around 10:35 am, and I can't tell that anything unusual is going on by looking at it. It's still the bright, dazzling sun, and very hard to look at as per normal, so hopefully small, curious children won't be able to stand there just gazing at it.

UPDATE:
Ok, so my eyeballs feel slightly burnt, like a light sunburn on the skin. Probably not good. And, talking to my husband, he said that he used to like staring at the sun as a child, and soon after he did quite a lot of it, he needed glasses.

Related links: Can You Really Go Blind Staring at a Solar Eclipse? ~ Mental Floss
Eclipse plunges North Qld into darkness ~ Sky News
Eclipse viewers turn out on waterfront ~ Stuff
Eye Safety During Solar Eclipses ~ NASA

2 comment(s):

KG said...

We're a very long way West of Cairns, Lucia Maria but the dimming of the sun was eerie, even here. And welcome, because it didn't hit like a hammer as it usually does the instant it climbed above the horizon. :)

Lucia Maria said...

It was eerie, wasn't it? If I didn't know what was going on, it would have been even spookier.

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