Tomorrow afternoon those of us in Central Florida will get to experience a partial solar eclipse. This is, apparently the first time in 99 years that parts of the continental US will actually get a total eclipse.
I understand the dangers of gazing into the sun at any time, especially during any phase of an eclipse. Our local school board is taking, what I believe, to be extreme measures during our local viewing time. To quote:
“Due to the dangers associated with viewing the eclipse, all outdoor activities, such as athletics, physical education, extracurriculars and extended-day, will be held indoors beginning at 1:15 p.m. until the eclipse ends at 4:15 p.m. The district is sharing important resources with students, teachers and parents to take advantage of this educational experience, as well as encouraging safe viewing of the eclipse on appropriate television channels or online websites. “
I remember when I was in 5th or 6th grade (we’re talking about 1967 – 68) we had a partial eclipse viewable in Miami. Did we have to sit inside and watch TV broadcasts? Nope we went outside and were taught the safe ways to view an eclipse. I don’t think there were any mass-produced “Eclipse Glasses” at that time, so we did the punch a hole in a piece of paper and view the image on a second piece of paper, and made “box viewers”. Awe, the good ol’/bad ol’ days.
The Celts (my heritage), seem to look forward to eclipses.
Native Americans, would stay inside during an eclipse as they thought it was an ill omen. The Vikings saw it as a pair of wolves eating the sun. In Vietnam, a toad or frog is eating the sun.
This article from 2013 National Geographic outlines some of the beliefs from around the world.
So don’t go run and hide and scream “Demons are eating the Sun!!” tomorrow. The universe will survive, just like we did December 27, 2012.