BEND, OR -- With so much of the eclipse talk focused on potential traffic problems and local gas shortages, scientists worry one health risk is getting overlooked by Central Oregonians. University of Richmond Astrophysicist Jack Singal says the proper eyewear is imperative.
Normally, we would automatically turn away from the sun or close our eyes to avoid harmful ultraviolet light. "Now, during an eclipse, the sun is going to get darker so you won’t have that automatic instinct to look away. And also, because it’s getting darker out, your eyes will dilate to let more light in. So, they’ll let in a lot of that harmful ultraviolet light," Singal tells KBND News. "So, what you need are special glasses that block the harmful ultraviolet light. And, you can buy these eclipse viewing glasses online at various websites, including NASA. Also, if you happen to have welding glass that’s rated #14, that also blocks out the harmful ultraviolet light."
A total eclipse is unusual, in and of itself. But, for an eclipse to stretch across the continental U.S. the way it will August 21, that’s even more rare. Totality stretches across more than half a dozen states, so is Central Oregon really that special? Singal says it’s not our imagination; Madras and Mitchell really are the center of the eclipse universe. "Out here on the east coast, and west of the Cascades out there, there’s a significant chance of it being cloudy. You’re in a pretty ideal area because there’s a good chance of having clear skies that time of year and that’s why so many people are converging on your area."
Singal says the sky will start to darken shortly after 9 a.m., with totality occurring in Madras at 10:19 a.m.; complete darkness will last about two minutes. Areas just outside the path of totality – like Bend – will see partial darkness, where people still need special glasses to view the sun. He says sunglasses are not enough. To hear our full conversation with Jack Singal, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.
Eclipse Coverage on KBND is supported in part by Awnings Unlimited. Shade yourself from the sun with Awnings Unlimited at 5541-389-1619 and awningsunlimited.net.