GREENFIELD — All eyes will be on the sky Monday, and officials are warning people of the dangers associated with staring at the sun.
For the first time since 1979, the United States will experience a total solar eclipse — when the moon blocks the sun. Every state will be able to see a partial eclipse, and portions of 14 states will see totality, when the moon completely blocks the sun, and the sun’s corona is visible, according to NASA.
The celestial event is remarkable to see, officials said, but residents need to take precautions to protect their eyes.
Local school leaders are encouraging parents to reinforce with their children the dangers the solar eclipse poses, especially since many students will be heading home during the event’s peak time.
Some schools across the region, including Eastern Hancock, have altered their start times so students aren’t boarding buses during the eclipse, which is expected to last until about 3:30 p.m.
The school day will begin an hour later than usual, and students will not be allowed outside during the event, administrators said in a statement to parents. Instead, classes are planning indoor events to celebrate the unusual event.
Other schools have purchased solar glasses for students to safely watch the eclipse. Students at Greenfield Central Junior High will be outside for about 45 minutes, and parent permission is required for them to participate, Principal Dan Jack said.
Staring into the sun is never safe, even during a partial eclipse, unless you’re wearing glasses with solar filters, according to NASA.
Ordinary sunglasses won’t cut it, the department states. And you can’t view it through a camera, either.
Because the retina — the tissue at the back of the eye — has no pain receptors, it doesn’t immediately hurt when the sun damages it, according to the American Optometric Association.
The damage caused by the sun, called solar retinopathy, can be temporary or permanent and can even cause blindness, the association states.
If you plan to watch the eclipse here in Hancock County, you must wear solar glasses at all times.
Only within the path of totality — a 70-mile path south of Indiana — and once the moon completely blocks the sun is it safe to remove the solar glasses, the association states.
Other tips from NASA include:
Inspect solar glasses before putting them on. If there are any scratches or the glasses appear damaged, discard them.
Keep a close eye on children using solar filters.
Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking to the sun.
After looking at the sun, turn away and then take off your glasses.
Don’t look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using the eclipse glasses. The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter, allowing the rays to enter your eyes.
People with eye glasses should keep them on. Put the eclipse glasses on over them.