Total solar eclipse just over a week away: Here’s what you need to know

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A rare treat is coming our way a week from Monday—a total solar eclipse, spanning the nation, from the coast of Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, beginning shortly after 1:00 p.m. on August 21.

In Columbus, we will experience a partial solar eclipse starting at 1:04 pm and ending at 3:52 pm. We can expect a little more than 86% of the sun’s disk will be covered by the moon at 2:30 p.m. The 70-mile-wide path of totality will sweep across western Kentucky into southern Tennessee, which is as close as we get to 100% coverage of the sun here in central Ohio.

Ohio Wesleyan University’s Perkins Observatory Director Tom Burns said that special telescopes are designed to filter out all but 1/10,000th of the sun’s light, and only a small portion of the colors that make up the light.

Burns said the experience of witnessing a rare total solar eclipse leaves even the most experienced scientists in a state of awe. He added that viewing the sun require

Remember, never look at the sun directly without protection because you could suffer permanent eye damage in seconds, potentially burning a portion of your retinas causing a loss of color vision, distinction of objects, and others forms of irreversible damage from solar retinopathy.

In case you were wondering if your regular sunglasses will cut it, they won’t. Internationally certified protective solar eclipse-viewing glasses block out at least 99.5 percent of the sun’s light, said Burns. (For a list of accredited manufacturers due to a risk of counterfeit glasses that are not safe despite coding, please review the list: https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters.)

“Under no circumstances should you wear sunglasses,” said Dr. Alice Epitropoulos, an ophthalmologist with the Eye Center of Ohio. “That’s not going to provide adequate protection.”

Total solar eclipses occur around the world every one to two years on average, but because 70% of Earth is covered by ocean, most are not readily observable. When the celestial bodies align in just the right position, we are treated to an impressive, relatively rare spectacle.

The last total solar eclipse visible in the United States occurred on February 26, 1979. A coast-to-coast event hasn’t happened in 99 years. Central Ohio will be in the path of the next total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024.

A number of locations around the Columbus area will have events on August 21, including some area Metro Parks and Columbus Metropolitan Libraries, and COSI.

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