In my bucolic waterfront village of Beaufort, South Carolina, it's currently that time of year when the 'dog days of summer' and ole Sol are at their meanest . . . making air conditioning our best friend. However, this year, there is an upcoming natural occurrence involving the sun many of us are actually looking forward to.
It's an auspicious event us southerners are fortunate to have the bird's eye seat. Guaranteed by most experts, Beaufort is strategically positioned to receive 99% of a full solar eclipse, where residents and tourists alike are going to be entertained by a stellar performance of our heavenly bodies [literally]. And it is the first to stretch coast-to-coast in 99 years.
We're prepping for a moment in time when the moon will pass between the earth and the sun, essentially turning off the lights for a good portion of the Continental U.S. on August 21, 2017.
Total Solar Eclipse, Y'all
A total eclipse of the sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses the United States beginning in the northern Pacific and crossing the country from west to east through parts of Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina; a rare celestial event millions of Americans, with caution, will be able to observe.
From partial to total eclipse and back to partial, it will be viewable from Beaufort for 2 hours and 54 minutes, with the total coverage lasting for slightly over 2 minutes around 2:46pm.
Over the years, we’ve been forewarned that when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, you don’t stare directly. Why? Because the ultraviolet light is so intense, it can actually ’sunburn’ your corneas, or the protective outer layer of your eye, in addition to your retinas.
So, if you do want to view the spectacle head-on, humans need to purchase protective eye-gear created specifically for this purpose.
But will our dogs also need to be protected?
Space.com noted animals in general don’t look directly at the sun, so their eyes will probably be OK.
“It’s no different than any other day — on a normal day, your pets don’t try to look at the sun, and therefore don’t damage their eyes . . . so on this day they’re not gonna do it either,” the University of Missouri’s Angela Speck said at a NASA news conference.
However, one way the eclipse could affect your pooch is how he or she behaves as a result of this unique phenomenon.
We know that animals react differently at different times of day and we know from anecdotal evidence of previous eclipses that animals will react differently to the changes in light and heat. For instance, it can throw off their biological clocks, where birds might be triggered to start napping, or frogs might start croaking to signal the end of the day.
As far as dogs, if you are still worried about protecting their eyes, simply purchase an extra pair of those eclipse safety glasses. Some pairs come with a wrap-around, which will fit snug around one's head, so your dogs won’t be inclined to remove them.
“If you are within the path of totality, you can remove these solar filters . . . when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark,” NASA's Speck added.
Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace them for yourself and your dog to catch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse as the moon slowly drifts past the sun all together.
Happy & safe eclipse watching!