Contributed Ken Tapping, an astronomer with the National Research Council of Canada’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in the Okanagan wants you to look at the stars, very carefully.

Keep eyes safe for eclipse

Solar eclipse viewing must be done carefully

Whatever you’re doing at around 9 a.m. Monday, make sure you don’t stare into the sky.

Or, if you do, make sure you have the right equipment because the solar eclipses are as dangerous as they are engaging.

“We want people to have a moment of pleasure, not a lifetime of regret,” said Ken Tapping, an astronomer with the National Research Council of Canada’s Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in the Okanagan.

“The trouble is that eclipses make the sun interesting. If you’re walking around, your eyeballs are moving all the time. But you can overcome this common sense when the sun becomes interesting, so people will stare at the sun.”

A Kelowna optometrist is concerned that he’s going to see the negative side effects of just that phenomenon.

Dr. Paul Clark says if solar filter eyewear is not used “absolutely perfectly” or if there is a manufacturing defect in solar filter glasses, it could result in permanent vision loss.

“Just like sunburn to the skin, the effects are not felt or noticed immediately,” said Clark.

“I have a great fear that I will have patients in my office on Tuesday, Aug. 22, who woke up with hazy, blurry vision that I cannot fix.

“There is absolutely no safe way to watch the eclipse other than on television.”

The eclipse on Aug. 21 is a total eclipse along a band about 100 kilometres wide that crosses the entire United States from the southeast to Oregon in the northwest, said Tapping.

Around 9:13 a.m., observers using the right equipment will see a little notch on the sun as the moon moves in front of it. By 10:25 a.m., close to 90 per cent of the sun will be covered by the moon. It will all be over at 11:42 a.m.

It’s as close to a total eclipse, where the entire sun is covered, that Canadians have seen since 1979. Only people in Oregon will see 100 per cent coverage of the sun.

In Kelowna the Okanagan Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is hosting a free public viewing event from 9 a.m. until noon at the Kelowna Curling Club. Approved solar eclipse glasses will be available for use, along with special solar eclipse telescopes.

Members of the Okanagan Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada remind people to not look directly at the sun without proper eye protection.