Don’t risk your eyesight

Published 9:26 pm Thursday, August 17, 2017

The total solar eclipse that much of the nation will experience on Monday has become a major tourist draw for those parts of the nation that will actually see totality. A swath of the United States from South Carolina to Oregon will, weather permitting, experience the rare phenomenon, and communities along that path are preparing for a huge influx of visitors eager to experience the once-in-a-lifetime event.

Unfortunately, Suffolk will see only about 86 percent coverage of the sun, but folks are still justifiably excited about the eclipse.

A total eclipse that occurred over Suffolk in 1970 nearly resulted in a festival promoter holding a rock music festival in the tiny community of Eclipse, according to “The River Binds Us,” a historical account of the Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson communities published by Suffolk River Heritage.

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Ultimately the idea was rejected — we can only imagine area residents had worrisome visions of the recently infamous Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in their heads as they considered the proposal — but Eclipse was still a destination for those who wanted to get postal stamps commemorating the event.

Sadly today there are no such postal stamps to be had, even though Eclipse is still a thriving little community in Suffolk.

Still, though, there will be plenty of opportunities locally for folks who cannot get to an area of totality to experience a partial eclipse.

The Suffolk Public Library is planning a viewing event at its Chuckatuck location from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday. There will be snacks, arts and crafts and games on the lawn, and the library will live stream the event on screens inside, as well.

Even more importantly, the first 300 people to arrive at the library for the party will receive viewing glasses that will protect them from potential damage to their eyes from viewing the event without protection.

That’s important, as the damage that can be done to an unprotected eye is permanent.

According to an Aug. 2 post on, those looking for the eclipse this Monday should prepare themselves with solar viewers that have a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard, along with the manufacturer’s name and address.

No solar viewers should be used if they are damaged or older than three years. Viewing without proper protection can result in retina damage and partial or total blindness.

If you don’t have your protective glasses already, go to the library event and use their glasses. Don’t risk a lifetime of eyesight for this once-in-a-lifetime event.