2017 solar eclipse

It’s a total eclipse of the facts…when it comes to superstitious beliefs!

In case you haven’t heard, there’s a total solar eclipse coming up. On Monday, August 21 the path of the total eclipse will darken skies over several states in the US. Its band stretches about 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina. It is sure to be an unforgettable experience, especially for North Carolinians. We are guaranteed about a 90% eclipse, whereas people in South Carolina will experience 100% darkness as the moon passes in between our blue planet and the sun. The actual blackout will last about two and a half minutes starting at 2:40 pm.

Well, now that you have been forewarned about the sudden darkening of the skies, there’s no need to be superstitious or afraid of the outcome. However, many superstitions and old wives’ tales still exist, thanks to many cultures around the world that also experienced this once in a lifetime event. The next solar eclipse is said to occur in 2024 above Mexico and Texas and through the Midwest and northeastern US.

A popular misconception is that solar eclipses can be a danger to pregnant women and their unborn children. In many cultures, young children and pregnant women are asked to stay indoors during a solar eclipse. In the Hispanic culture, originating from the Aztecs, it is popular belief that the sun rays from an eclipse can cause a cleft lip or palate in the unborn child. They believed that a bite was taken out of the moon, and therefore her infant would have a bite taken out of its mouth. The expectant mothers were told to place an obsidian knife over their abdomen as protection. Still practiced to this day, mothers wear a piece of metal such as a safety pin or metal key and something red, to protect the unborn child.

The opposite is thought in India where pregnant women should not touch metal during a solar or lunar eclipse. So when there is an expected eclipse, all metal objects are covered up.

Luckily, none of these beliefs are rooted in actual science, so there is no cause for alarm. No matter what superstition exists to protect you from the harmful effects of an eclipse, the truth is there are some safety precautions you should take to protect your eyesight.

Skywatchers should never look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon can cause serious eye damage or blindness. To view the eclipse safely, you should get a pair of solar viewing glasses. There are four companies that sell eclipse glasses that meet the international standard (ISO 12312-2) recommended by NASA and other scientific organizations.

Do not use sunglasses in place of solar viewing glasses. You need ‘solar viewing glasses’, ‘eclipse glasses’ or ‘personal solar filters’ to safely view the eclipse. The lenses in these eyewear are made from special purpose solar filters that are hundreds of thousands of times darker than regular sunglasses. When wearing them, the only thing visible should be the face of the sun.

We hope you get to enjoy this spectacular event and safely watch the eclipse with your family and friends. Unfortunately no metal is required to participate, but you can still bring your scrap metal to us and the truth is you will get paid for it!

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