Acadiana schools prepare for solar eclipse - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Acadiana schools prepare for solar eclipse

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The solar eclipse is only days away, and schools across Acadiana are getting ready.

Some schools are taking precautions before allowing students to view the eclipse with special glasses.

It's the most talked about event in the third grade class at Green T. Lindon Elementary School.

The class has been preparing for the solar eclipse, and 3rd grader Daniel Johnson says he's ready for it. 

"I don't know how to explain it, but I'm more than excited," Daniel said. "It's very rare, and I've never seen it in my life."

With Lafayette Parish School System focusing on hands-on experiences for their science curriculum, teachers say this is a perfect way to get them involved.

"It's just a wonderful opportunity for all of us to have a discussion while we're watching this natural phenomenon occur," Principal Cheri Fontenot said.  

Teachers are warning students to not look directly into the sun without the glasses because it could cause problems. 

"It's not going to cause complete blindness, but it can cause a blurry spot that persists for days or maybe for life," ophthalmologist Dr. Robert Blem said. 

Dr. Blem says the glasses can protect your eyes from possible damage. However, Blem says even with glasses on, you don't want to stare at the sun for no longer than 3 or 4 minutes. 

"Solar retinopathy is very similar to if you look at the sun briefly," Blem said. "When you look away and you see a dark spot as the same image as the sun, that's temporary solar retinopathy. It goes away and your eyes are able to handle a brief moment like that. but if you stare at that sun for 3 or 4 minutes and look away, that dark spot may not go away."  

However, the third graders at Green T. Lindon Elementary won't have any problems after weeks of learning and training with the glasses. 

The solar eclipse will be visible next week on Monday, August 21 across North America. 

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon's shadow passes over the Earth's surface, temporarily blocking the view of the sun from the Earth. 

Here in Acadiana, the partial solar eclipse will begin just a few minutes before noon and end around 3:00 p.m. The peak time of the eclipse will be around 1:25 p.m., according to the curator of the Lafayette Science Museum. 

There are a few safe ways to view this event in the sky. Several businesses around Acadiana were selling solar eclipse glasses, which are specifically made to protect the wearer's eyes while still letting them see the eclipse. 

Another alternative is building simple solar eclipse viewers out of cardboard boxes, paper, and aluminum foil for safely viewing the eclipse. One easy way is punching a hole in a sheet of paper and holding it above another sheet of paper. The user will have to face away from the sun and angle the paper so the sun's light passes through the hole in the paper. 

It is not safe to look directly at the sun, and making your own glasses or using other types of glasses to see the eclipse is not recommended. 

The last time a total solar eclipse occurred in the continental U.S. was 1979.

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