A (91%) Total Eclipse of the Sun in Leadville
Submitted by Dr. Robert Prouty, Lake County Vision Center
For the first time in nearly 100 years, a solar eclipse will occur that will be visible to most of the continental United States. This “total solar eclipse” will occur on Monday, August 21st, 2017. But how do you best “view” the eclipse?
The sun is a massive sphere of hot plasma that is approximately 864,500 miles in diameter. Through the process of nuclear fusion, a mix of solar radiation is generated. Because of the extreme intensity of solar radiation, viewing the sun unprotected is very strongly cautioned against. Even at totality, when the moon covers the sun, dangerous levels of ultraviolet light will still be reaching you at the Earth’s surface. The eye is designed to focus light at the retina, and the eye’s ability to concentrate dangerous radiation wavelengths of light, such as ultraviolet radiation, can result in permanent damage. Damage to the retina, cornea, and crystalline lens can result in permanent blindness if the sun is improperly viewed.
One method to “view” the eclipse is indirectly with a “pinhole projector” or a pinhole in a card held about 36 inches from a surface. You can also point binoculars or a telescope at the sun and project the image to a surface. CLICK HERE for instructions on how to build a “pinhole projector”.
The only safe way to directly look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun (the Leadville area will be about 91%) is through eclipse glasses or filters. Only a small sliver of the U.S. will experience a total solar eclipse – the sun being 100% occluded by the moon – so the vast majority of the viewers will need special solar filters or eclipse glasses. The best viewing sites near Leadville will be north of Colorado in central Wyoming. This eclipse has been predicted to be the most viewed solar eclipse to ever occur in the United States, and possibly the world. Thousands of people are expected to migrate to ideal viewing locales in order to experience this unique natural phenomenon.
In Leadville, it is estimated to start at about 10:21 a.m. with a 91% maximum at 11:44 a.m. The total duration is estimated to be about 2 hours 51 minutes with the end at 1:11 p.m. A VERY good simulation of the eclipse event (with times) at Leadville is available HERE. Since in our area a maximum of only 91% of the sun will be eclipsed for the entire event, filters MUST be used damage to the naked eye will occur!
Lake County Vision Care’s doctor urges all eclipse viewers to do so safely through proper filters which allow you to view the spectacle of the eclipse without endangering your eyes. Great caution should be exercised to properly monitor children, as a combination of their natural curiosity and lack of knowledge of the consequences may pose a very real danger! Elevated Eyewear has eclipse-viewing spectacles/filters available that will safely allow you to view the eclipse. Commonly misunderstood “filters” that should NOT be used to directly view the eclipse are: black “developed” color film, sunglasses, photographic neutral density or polarizing filters, smoked glass, CDs/DVDs, Mylar balloons or food wrappers.
While specialized filters are required for prime eclipse viewing, we always recommend that all patients of all ages wear everyday ultraviolet protection when outdoors while in the mountains. We live at high altitude here in Leadville and are exposed to more ultraviolet light than most of the country. Please consider your eye health every day and especially when viewing the grandeur of this upcoming celestial phenomenon.
Here’s wishing you all a fun and safe 2017 Eclipse!
School District Offer Eclipse Event
In other eclipse news, while Leadville schools don’t officially start until August 22/23, school district officials announced that they will offer the following opportunity for children to participate in this significant event in a safe environment. Here are those details.
Come join us at LCHS to see the partial solar eclipse!
Begins: Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 10:21 am
Maximum: Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 11:44 am
Ends: Mon, Aug 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm
LOCATION: LCHS-CONCRETE PATIO BEHIND THE LIBRARY/INFO COMMONS
You are welcome to bring a chair, blanket and/or snacks.They will have protective eclipse glasses available! For students under 18 to participate in eclipse viewing at LCHS, parents must sign this permission slip. Thank you!
Another viewing option . . . Treeline Kitchen and Elevated Eyewear have teamed up for another Eclipse event to support Main Street efforts. A rooftop viewing party at the recently renovated Sayer & McKee Building in the KW Plaza is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 21, from 10:20 a.m. until 1:11 p.m. There will be eclipse viewing glasses available for $5 at this downtown location.