MHS views eclipse, separates fact and fable

Amber Dycus, Journalist

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A rare solar eclipse swept across the country Aug. 21. Magnolia saw about 80-85 percent totality, and MHS got to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. All students watched NASA videos to learn how to view the eclipse safely. Then they were issued eclipse glasses to use before, during, and after lunch. Most teachers took students outside several times to view the progress. The glasses were paid for by Albemarle.

“Senior Dondrail Gulley said, “It was great to see science outside of a classroom setting,” Biology teacher Kaye Minter said, “It was amazing to see all the students out enjoying science for that day.”

The last time the U.S. had a chance to witness this phenomenon was in 1979, over thirty years ago.  A solar eclipse does not take place often, so a lot of students had a lot of questions, and Panther Perspective did a little research.

One fable is that during an eclipse, you can stare at the sun all you want. The truth is that it is never safe to look at the sun except for the few seconds of totality, when it gets dark, and MHS did not experience totality. Staring at the sun at any time, even while an eclipse is taking place, can burn a person’s retinas.

Environmental science teacher Kaci Meyers explained about the special glasses worn by MHS students to view the eclipse. She said, “The eclipse glasses were amazing. They have this film that protects your eyes from the sun, but you can only use those specific glasses to see the solar eclipse, or it can cause serious eye damage.”

Another fable that circulated was that the solar eclipse could be bad for your skin and cause some type of deterioration. Perspective looked this one up, too. It turns out that just like any other day out in the sun, you can get a sunburn if you stand out in the sun, but, no, an eclipse does not deteriorate your skin.

Still another fable that got passed around was that animals know an eclipse is approaching and go into attack mode. The truth is that animals do not attack more during a solar eclipse. Sources say, if anything, animals are confused. Ants and bees, for example, go back to their nests, and cows have been known to stop eating briefly.

One last fable that was told involved the sun’s rays. Some people think that since the moon covers the sun, the sun’s rays that peak around are extra harmful, maybe even gamma rays. Although the moon does cover the sun during an eclipse, the sun does not release or radiate gamma rays. Just like any normal day, the sun emits ultraviolet rays. Is it harmful? Yes, but only if the your skin is not protected by proper sunscreen.

https://www.livescience.com/20433-solar-eclipse-blind.html

http://www.businessinsider.com/solar-eclipse-2017-wear-sunscreen-to-protect-against-skin-damage-2017-8

https://www.forbes.com/sites/grrlscientist/2017/08/14/how-do-animals-react-to-a-total-solar-eclipse/#397922a46128

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