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Sunglasses won’t cut it for The Eclipse. Get your glasses before it’s too late

From left, Anna, 8, and her sister Clara, 10, Rosati, along with friend Charlotte Savage,10, look at the sun at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Tacoma using special glasses designed to safely view it.
From left, Anna, 8, and her sister Clara, 10, Rosati, along with friend Charlotte Savage,10, look at the sun at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Tacoma using special glasses designed to safely view it. Staff writer

It’s what every mom has probably said since humans first developed the ability to speak.

“Don’t look at the sun.”

That will still be good advice for everyone in Washington on Aug. 21,when the Great American Eclipse darkens the sky.

Still, Oregon will get bragging rights over the Evergreen State. The 70-mile wide region of totality, called the umbra, will pass across Oregon on its way to the East Coast.

Some southern parts of Washington will see more than 99 percent of the sun obscured. In Tacoma, it’ll be about 93 percent.

Only those in the umbra will have the roughly 2-minute-long opportunity to view a total solar eclipse without any eye protection.

When the eclipse reaches totality in Oregon — at 10:17 a.m. — it will be at its maximum in Washington as well. Only a thin crescent of the sun will be peeking from behind the moon.

Even that skinny crescent is strong enough to cause serious eye damage, said Charles Jacobson of the Tacoma Astronomical Society.

Instead, use special eclipse glasses. Wear them whenever you are looking directly at the sun.

“Never take them off,” Jacobson said. “No peeking. Just leave them on.”

Skies will get dim in Washington, giving residents the chance to engage in the eclipse experience. It just won’t be as dark.

“The birds won’t roost, the coyotes won’t yell, the bats won’t come out,” Jacobson said.

But by using eclipse glasses you’ll be able to watch the moon cross in front of the sun during the 90-minute long eclipse.

And sunglasses don’t cut it. Only eclipse viewing glasses or welder’s glass are dark enough for safe viewing.

According to NASA, glasses should have an ISO icon with a ISO 12312-2 reference number. No. 14 welders glass is suitable for viewing, Jacobson said.

Those attending the Tacoma Astronomical Club’s Astronomy Fair on Saturday (Aug. 5) at Pierce College will get free eclipse glasses. They will be handed out at eclipse sessions during the day.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor

ASTRONOMY FAIR

Who: Tacoma Astronomical Society

When: Noon-5 p.m. for solar observations; 9 p.m.-midnight for planets and stars; Saturday (Aug. 5).

Where: Pierce College Science Dome, 9401 Farwest Drive SW, Lakewood.

Cost: Free

What: During the day, participants will be able to look through solar telescopes, take eclipse classes and watch demonstrations on gravitation, moon crater formation and comets. At night, viewing of Jupiter, Saturn, star clusters and nebulae will be possible, including with a new video system that displays high-definition images.

WEATHER

There’s always the weather.

According to federal weather data, Western Washington has a 40 to 50 percent chance of cloud cover on Aug. 21. Oregon has a slightly better chance of being sunny.

Newport, Oregon, where the eclipse will begins, has a 56 percent chance of cloud cover whereas Salem has a 33 percent chance of clouds.

Based on history, Central Oregon to Idaho will offer the best chances for cloudless viewing across the country on Aug. 21.

WHERE TO GET GLASSES

In addition to the Tacoma Astronomical Club’s Astronomy Fair and online sources, there’s at least one local source for eclipse glasses: Cloud Break Optics in Seattle.

It’s at 2821 NW Market St., STE G, Seattle. Contact info: 206-327-9826, cloudbreakoptics.com/

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