Best not to stare

Best not to stare

As the solar eclipse nears, the public should be advised on what’s going to happen during the eclipse and precautions to take to ensure a safe viewing.

According to the NASA website, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and covers all or part of the sun.

In areas that will see a total eclipse, the moon will cover the sun completely for roughly two minutes and 40 seconds.

The last time the United States saw a total solar eclipse was in 1979.

Assistant Director for Jacksonville State University Field Schools Dr. Niki Wayner provided information on the solar eclipse in the Fort Payne area.

“It’s good for people to educate themselves about what’s going on,” she said.

The Fort Payne area will have about 97 percent totality.

This means that the eclipse will not reach a complete solar eclipse in the Fort Payne area, but the moon will cover the majority of the sun.

Wayner said to view a total solar eclipse, most people will be traveling to Nashville, Tennessee.

“The traffic is going to be horrible though,” Wayner said.

She advised that since Fort Payne, and all of Alabama, will not experience a total solar eclipse, solar glasses should be worn during the entire event.

“There’s been an onslaught of glasses that aren’t going to be any good,” Wayner said. “Very rarely does NASA come out and say we recommend these and they’ve done that.”

She recommends that people look for NASA approved glasses including brands such as Rainbow Symphony. The glasses will say if they are approved.

“The problem is right now everywhere is sold out,” Wayner said.

NASA Aerospace Education Specialist John Weis visited Little River Canyon Center to discuss precautions and projects to prepare for the eclipse.

“We had 30 teachers that came from all over Alabama, and we pretty much learned activities we can do and how to present the information to kids,” Wayner said.

There are alternatives if you don’t have glasses.

“We did a workshop this past weekend where we made cereal box viewers that actually turn a cereal box into a viewer,” she said. “You don’t look into the sun with it but you can look into the box and see the eclipse through there.”

Wayner said people also need to take precautions when photographing the eclipse.

According to the NASA website, most smartphones are safe to use; however, you should make sure your device is set properly.

Other cameras should have a solar filter to avoid damage to the camera, and make sure not to remove your glasses or look directly into the viewfinder when taking a picture.

Wayner said people should visit the solar eclipse websites such as or for information on what’s going to happen and safety procedures.

“This is something that doesn’t happen that often, so it’s a neat experience to talk about Earth and space science to children. It’s kind of a oncein a lifetime experience,” Wayner said.

The solar eclipse is on Monday, Aug 21.

The start of the partial eclipse for the Fort Payne area will be at 12:02 p.m. CDT, the height of the eclipse will be at 1:32 p.m. CDT and the sun will be completely revisable at 2:58 p.m. CDT.

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