Though the Bahamas is not within the path of totality of this Monday’s solar eclipse, we’ll still be able to view this amazing phenomenon from the islands.
According to Bahamian meteorologist and author, Wayne Neely, the moon will cover about 80% of the sun in the Northwest and Central Bahamas (from Grand Bahamas to San Salvador). Further south, folks in Crooked Island, Acklins, Inagua or Mayaguana, will see about 75% coverage.
Wayne says the eclipse will last just under three hours, beginning around 1:30pm and ending just before 4:30pm. Optimal viewing will be about 3:05pm.
Both Wayne and the Bahamas Ministry of Health warn that looking directly at the sun without proper eye protection — even just for a moment — can burn your retinas and result in partial or complete blindness. This damage can occur without pain and may not be apparent for hours or even days.
And, no, that cute, wide-brimmed straw hat or your favourite pair of designer shades won’t help. Neither will viewing the eclipse through your unfiltered smart phone, camera, telescope or binoculars.
There are only two safe ways to view an eclipse: through a proper, certified filtering device (e.g. eclipse glasses) or indirectly, by projecting an image of the sun onto a screen.
No eclipse glasses? No worries! It’s easy to make a safe and simple shoebox viewer. Here’s New Jersey astronomer, Ranger Bob, to show you how:
And finally, for those who’d like a refresher as to how a solar eclipse works, here’s a terrific explanation from my friends, Rebecca and Kimberly Yeung, who were guests on Good Morning America earlier this week.
UPDATE: From NASA’s Eclipse 2017 website:
“Experts suggests that one widely available filter for safe solar viewing is welders glass of sufficiently high number. The only ones that are safe for direct viewing of the sun with your eyes are those of Shade 12 or higher. These are much darker than the filters used for most kinds of welding. If you have an old welder’s helmet around the house and are thinking of using it to view the sun, make sure you know the filter’s shade number. If it’s less than 12 (and it probably is), don’t even think about using it to look at the sun.”