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  • Writer's pictureMehrnaz Azimi Green, OD, FCOVD

Are Your Eyes Ready for the Upcoming Annular Solar Eclipse?




The annular solar eclipse will cross North, Central and South America on Saturday, October 14, 2023. The annular eclipse will begin in the United States, traveling from the coast of Oregon to the Texas Gulf Coast. For Marylanders staying in the area, weather permitting, we will see a partial solar eclipse!

The partial solar eclipse will begin Oct. 14 about one minute past noon, when the moon will touch the sun’s edge. At approximately 1:19 p.m., the eclipse will be at its peak, and the moon will obscure a chunk of the sun’s face, similar in appearance to a tilted Venn diagram. By 2:38 p.m., the eclipse will end.

Since this is the last annular solar eclipse that will be visible in the U.S. until 2039 – make sure your peepers prepped for viewing!


Keep in mind! The Sun is never completely blocked by the Moon during an annular solar eclipse – and it’s never safe to look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection.


Tips for viewing an annular solar eclipse:


1. Use approved solar eclipse viewers. The only safe way to view a partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as "eclipse glasses" or viewers that meet international standard ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. Sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters are unsafe. Inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use – if torn, scratched, or otherwise damaged, discard the device.


If you can't find eclipse viewers, build a pinhole projector to watch the eclipse.

2. Technique of the pros. Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up. After viewing, turn away and remove your glasses or viewer — do not remove them while looking at the sun. If you normally wear eyeglasses, wear your eclipse glasses over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.


Be aware of harmful solar exposure: There is no substitute for the proper eye wear—not sunglasses, telescopes or binoculars unless they are fitted with the proper solar filter on the front (objective) lens. Staring at the sun without protection can result in damage to the retina (solar retinopathy).


Ask our team at VCDC for information about safely viewing the eclipse. If you experience any problems with your eyes or vision after the eclipse, seek medical care immediately. Symptoms of potential damage to the eyes include loss of central vision, distorted vision and altered color vision.


Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat when you’re spending time outside!




In Other Star Gazing News…

There will also be a partial lunar eclipse Oct. 28 when part of the moon’s face is shadowed. But for viewers in Maryland, the eclipse will be penumbral, so it will be very faint. Plus, when the eclipse reaches its maximum, the moon will still be below the horizon, so the best time to try to view it will be shortly after moonrise, at 6:07 p.m. For best viewing, locate a high point with an unobstructed view to the east-northeast.


The Orionid meteor shower is a medium-strength shower with a peak on the night of Oct. 20, with the moon 37% full. Usually, this shower produces 10 to 20 meteors an hour at maximum. But in strong years — as between 2006 and 2009 — the shower has been on par with the Perseids.




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