Solar eclipse safety

Solar eclipse safety

Mississippi Power encourages everyone to stay safe while experiencing the upcoming solar eclipse set for Monday, Aug. 21.

The eclipse, where the sun, the moon and planet Earth will all align, is the first such event in the continental U.S. in 38 years.

While Mississippi isn’t in the direct path of totality, precautions should be taken if viewing the eclipse.

According to NASA, “the only safe way to look directly at the partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as ‘eclipse glasses’ or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.”

NASA makes these recommendations for partial eclipse viewing safety:

• Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.

• If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

The agency also recommends a pinhole projection as an alternate method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun.

For the pinhole projection, NASA officials say “cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse; you’ll see the ground dappled with crescent suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.”

In the Mississippi Power service territory, the eclipse can be viewed at these times:

• Beginning: 11:57 a.m.
• Maximum: 1:29 p.m.
• Ending: 2:57 p.m.

“Safety is always our number one priority,” said Ty Carmeans, safety and training manager. “We urge anyone who plans to view the eclipse to follow all safety guidelines provided by NASA, eye doctors and other officials. We want everyone to enjoy the experience, but always keep safety in mind, especially when it concerns your vision.”

Meanwhile, the eclipse could have a slight impact at the company’s two operating solar facilities.

“We expect typical panel functionality similar to cloud cover at our solar facilities during the eclipse,” said Tony Smith, Mississippi Power Renewable Energy project manager. “If there are clear skies, our solar farm productivity could see a minimal decrease, and then ramp back up smoothly over a three-hour period.”