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The total solar eclipse is coming, please don't look directly at it

Last Updated Aug 15, 2017 at 2:21 pm EDT

A solar eclipse as seen from Svalbard, Norway on March 20, 2015. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Haakon Mosvold Larsen, NTB Scanpix

Monday marks a milestone in the United States as the first total solar eclipse in 99 years will pass across 14 states. But it’s an event that could have a lasting impression on your retina.

Scientists warn that as tempting as it may be, don’t look up at the eclipse without wearing proper eye wear, especially when the eclipse is just partial – which is what it will likely be in Canada.

For those who don’t know, a total solar eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun.

The good folks at NASA have created a map of the eclipse’s path. Click here to check it out.

According to The Ontario Science Centre, the eclipse — which will block 70 per cent of its light over Toronto — will begin at 1:10 p.m. It will hit its maximum coverage at 2:32 p.m. and end at 3:49 p.m.

If you’ve picked up a pair of eclipse-viewing glasses, NASA has a list of criteria they should meet:

  • Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
  • Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
  • Not be used if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses
  • Not use homemade filters
  • Ordinary sunglasses – even very dark ones – should not be used as a replacement for eclipse-viewing glasses or handheld solar viewers

 

Even sneaking a little peek at the eclipse can cause long-term damage. Solar radiation kills cells; however, it could be hours before you notice any damage.

If you ever made a pinhole viewer when you were in elementary school, officials say those work too but make sure you keep your back towards the sun while looking at the projection.

As well, binoculars, cameras and telescopes must have high quality solar filters.

The sun will be completely eclipsed for nearly three minutes. During this time it is safe to look up at the eclipse with your naked eye, but the total solar eclipse will only be viewable across parts of the United States – not in Canada.

Mostly, just use common sense. You don’t look directly at the sun on any other day, don’t start on Monday.

If you’re looking for a place around the city to gather to watch the eclipse, you have a few choices. The Science Centre is having a solar eclipse party and the Princess Margaret Fountain has teamed up with the Canadian National Exhibition a free event near the Better Living Centre.

For NASA’s complete eclipse safety tips click here.