You all know the song:
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
Well, unless you’ve been hiding under a very big log all summer, you undoubtedly know that our huckleberry friend the moon is going to take the sunshine away for an extended period next Monday, August 21. The first total solar eclipse to be visible across the entire contiguous United States since June 8, 1918 will begin in Oregon at 9:06 am PDT and end along the South Carolina coast at 4:06 EDT.
The path of totality where the moon completely obliterates the sun will stretch about 70 miles wide and pass within a few miles of several Sunshine Retirement communities, including:
- Summerfield Estates community in Tigard, Oregon
- Garden Way in Eugene, Oregon
- Hammond Glen in Sandy Springs, Georgia
- Creekside Pines in Dallas, Georgia
- Dunwoody Pines in Dunwoody, Georgia.
But just because the sun disappears and the sky goes dark doesn’t mean you should put your pajamas on and crawl into bed. Many television broadcasts will be showing the total eclipse as it happens. And a large number of viewing events, like Oregon Solarfest in Madras, are expected to attract hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people to cities and towns along the path. As a result, potentially horrendous traffic jams are expected. So rather than fight the masses of eclipse-hounds, communities like Summerfield Estates are hosting their own viewing parties, some of which span several days.
Summerfield Estates, Tigard, OR
8/18 all day – Eclipse Black Out Spirit Dress-up Day
8/21 @ 9:45 – Eclipse viewing party in the library, snacks and refreshments
8/21 @ 6:00 – Black Out Disaster Movie
8/22 @ 2:00 – Black Out Eclipse Bingo Bash
8/23 @ 3:00 – Earth Science Trivia
Hammond Glen, Sandy Spring, GA
8/21 @ 1:00 – Eclipse viewing
Creekside Pines, Dallas, GA
8/21 @ 2:00 – Eclipse viewing
Dunwoody Pines, Dunwoody, GA
8/21 @ 11:00 – Science Corner: Make pinhole projector
8/21 @ 2:30 – View the solar eclipse on the patio with made pinhole projector while enjoying eclipse cookies & learn the history in the Activity Room
Farther south of the path in California, the eclipse will be only about 40%. Yet communities there are joining in the fun all the same:
Villa Serena, Santa Clara CA
8/19 @ 2:30 – Documentary of Solar Eclipse
8/21 @ 10:15 – Viewing on the patio
Creekside Oaks, Folsom, CA
8/21 @ 9:00-11:30 – Eclipse viewing on the patio with solar glasses, goodies and eclipse trivia.
Better safe than sorry.
Of course, no matter where you are, it’s never okay to look directly at the sun without proper protection, unless the moon is completely blocking it. That’s why the folks at Dunwoody Pines will be making pinhole projectors and residents in all areas have been given special eclipse glasses that block all of the harmful ultraviolet light, as well as most of the visible light. In fact, wearing the glasses during the totality will also allow viewers to see the outer atmosphere of the sun and its streamers, loops and plumes of gas. Just make sure your eclipse glasses are not torn, scratched or punctured.
The same rules of protection also apply to cameras, binoculars and telescopes. Solar filters must be used on the lenses at any time the moon is not completely covering the face of the sun. If you wear eyeglasses, keep them on and put your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer over them. And don’t bother using sunglasses. They will not protect your eyes from direct sunlight and aren’t necessary when using eclipse glasses.
Do pets need protection?
How will the eclipse affect your pet? Probably not nearly as much as it will affect wild animals, birds and insects whose daily routines revolve around the sunrise and sunset. Crickets and frogs may start into their evening chorus, while nocturnal bats and owls could come out for a late morning snack. Your dog or cat, on the other, will probably be somewhat oblivious to the proceedings, unless you’re in an area with lots of human-caused hoopla, loud music or fireworks. Some places could be like the 4th of July on steroids. So definitely take precautions if that’s the case.
But will the rays of the sun severely damage the eyes of your dog or cat if they look directly at it? Yes. However, since your dog or cat isn’t inclined to look directly at the sun under normal circumstances, chances are, it won’t be tempted to do so during the eclipse like we humans are. If you’re still concerned, leave your pet indoors with the blinds closed. Or why not put a pair of eclipse glasses on your pup and see how cool he looks?
Without a doubt, the 2017 Solar Eclipse is one of the most anticipated and somewhat unpredictable events in this country in a long, long time. One thing we can predict though is that we only have to wait another seven years for the next total solar eclipse in the United States; April 8, 2024 to be exact. So if you enjoy this total eclipse, it won’t be so bad when the moon takes your only sunshine away again.