Have You Heard These Solar Eclipse Myths?

More about the August 21 Solar Eclipse

August 16, 2017
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NASA image
The Great American Eclipse is almost here.  

On Monday, August 21st, the path of totality will first appear over Oregon's Pacific coast at about 10:16 a.m. Pacific Time and cross diagonally towards the southeast, finally exiting over South Carolina about an hour and a half later, at 2:48 p.m. Eastern Time.  

Here in San Diego, we'll see about 60% coverage of the sun.  57.18% to be exact, according to the official NASA eclipse web site.

Our partial eclipse will begin at approximately 9:07AM, with maximum eclipse coming at 10:23AM and the end of the eclipse at about 11:46AM.

Want to see more coverage?  Go North!  For instance, Temecula will see a full 60% coverage, Los Angeles will be at 62% obscuration.

Since ancient times, many myths and misconceptions have developed about eclipses.  Here are a few that you may have heard of...

Total solar eclipses produce harmful rays that can cause blindness.

While directly viewing the sun when it's not in totality can cause retinal damage, NASA says there's nothing about the cosmic radiation during an eclipse that's any different from what would normally strike the earth on a sunny day.

If you are pregnant you should not watch an eclipse because it can harm your baby.

This is untrue and is related to the previous false idea that harmful radiations are emitted during a total solar eclipse. 

The moon turns completely black during a total solar eclipse.

While it's difficult to really see the surface of the new moon when it's blocking the sun, the truth is the moon will actually be dimly lit from earthshine - sunlight reflected from the majority of the earth that is not in the eclipse area.

Solar Eclipses foretell major life changes and events about to happen.

While this is a common interpretation found in astrological forecasts, there is nothing other than human psychology that connects eclipses with future events in your life.

Do animals change their behavior during an eclipse?

Yes, there have been reports of birds and animals behaving in strange ways as daylight turns to twilight in a matter of minutes during an eclipse.

There's a lot to know about the eclipse.  Especially safety info.  Never look directly at the sun if it's not in totality, and if you're looking for eclipse viewing glasses, make sure to get viewing devices verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products.

For more myths (and truths), eclipse maps, info for kids, safety information and much, much more, check it all out here on the NASA eclipse web site.