While Friday’s astronomical event will no doubt draw hundreds of thousands of sky gazing spectators, experts are warning against looking at the eclipse directly without appropriate eye protection.
“Two things can happen if you look directly at an eclipse. Because of the extreme exposure to light you can get edema, a swelling in your retina that causes burred vision. That can heal in time, but it could take up to a year,” said Lynda McGivney-Nolan from the Association of Optometrists Ireland.
“The second thing that can happen is more permanent burning or scarring which is quite serious and can result in permanent vision damage or scotoma – kind of like a blob or black dot in the centre of your vision.”
The only way to safely view the eclipse directly is through filters called eclipse glasses, available online or from local astronomy clubs.
High protection welding goggles may also be suitable if the filter is high enough, but sunglasses and 3D viewing glasses are not to be used.
“Sunglasses are not appropriate to watch the eclipse because they don’t have a strong enough filter. You need a filter of around 14 to look at an eclipse where as sunglasses only have a filter of around 5.”
Spectators can also view the eclipse by making homemade projectors – a wide variety of methods to make a projector can be found online, though one of the most popular methods is to make a small hole in a card, hold it up to the sun and project the image onto the ground or a second piece of white card.
Friday’s eclipse will be visible from 8.30am, will peak at around 9.30am, and will be complete by 10.40am.
There will be a total solar eclipse over the Northern Hemisphere at Norway’s Faroe Islands, and a rare 92% partial eclipse over Ireland.
It will be the first solar eclipse seen in Ireland since 1999, and will be the last one until 2026.
To mark the event, Astronomy Ireland will be hosting a viewing at its headquarters in Dublin, while Cork Astronomy Club will host several events in Blackrock Castle Observatory.
Meanwhile, astrophysicists from Trinity College Dublin are welcoming members of the public to view the eclipse from the university’s front square, where high-tech telescopes and specially designed eclipse shades will facilitate illuminating views for all.
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