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Total eclipse of the heart

Protect your eyes during eclipse

You’ve most likely heard — the first total solar eclipse to cross America coast-to-coast in 99 years will happen on Aug. 21. A partial eclipse will be seen in Johnson County.

Many will watch the solar eclipse and have already purchased (or will) eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers to do so. Some of these people may be at risk from counterfeit glasses and viewers sold by disreputable vendors trying to cash in on this rare event. Watching the eclipse with fake protective gear can cause permanent eye damage.

Only glasses and viewers verified by an accredited testing laboratory to meet ISO 12312-2 are safe to use when viewing the eclipse. This standard requires glasses and viewers to be thousands of times darker than typical sunglasses.

It may be hard to tell the difference between genuine protective gear and fake glasses/viewers as some counterfeit makers are placing ISO labels on them. The American Astronomical Society has guidance to help eclipse watchers determine if their eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers are safe. NASA recommends that eclipse watchers refer to a list of reputable vendors selling solar glasses and viewers. The American Society of Retina Specialists compiled a comprehensive fact sheet about safe viewing.

If you're traveling:

  • Don't rely on GPS or map apps — cell phone service may be overwhelmed. Print out your directions.
  • Keep your gas tank full so you don't run out of gas if you are stuck in traffic.

If you're staying in town:

  • The partial eclipse will begin around 11:30 a.m., with totality for our region occurring shortly after 1 p.m. The eclipse will end by about 2:45 p.m.
  • Be prepared and stay informed. Have an emergency kit on hand, have a plan and monitor reliable news sources for emergency information. Additional information for emergency planning is available online.