Solar Eclipse 2017: Protecting your eyes

If you plan on watching the solar eclipse, make sure to have the right eyewear. Otherwise, irreversible eye damage could occur. These special solar glasses are a great option, because regular sunglasses won't protect your eyes. (WCHS/WVAH)

Robert Frostick makes no bones about it. Solar eclipses are a once-in-a-lifetime event.

"At some point during your lifetime, you ought to see one," Frostick said.

Frostick, a teacher of astronomy at West Virginia State University and George Washington High School, said he is very excited about this upcoming one in just a couple of weeks.

West Virginia will just miss out on a total solar eclipse as the moon briefly passes in-between the sun and the earth, but our region will still see a partial eclipse. While that is not western Kentucky, Tennessee or South Carolina total eclipse-cool, it is still pretty neat.

"We get a partial eclipse of approximately 90 percent going through West Virginia. It will occur at about 2:35 in the afternoon on Aug. 21, and I think you'll notice that it gets noticeably darker outside," he said.

This astronomical eye candy won't last too long, though -- only a few minutes -- but depending upon the cloud cover that day, it will look almost like dawn or dusk in the afternoon. Don't assume this means you can look directly at the sun, however. In fact, this may be the most dangerous time to look at it without proper eyewear.

"Very interesting, and it's also somewhat dangerous because it will block off enough of the sun's light that you can look at it for too long and burn your retina," Frostick said.

And that damage would be permanent, too. Sunglasses aren't strong enough to look at this partial eclipse, either. You'll need special eclipse glasses to fully protect your eyes. They are a hot item, though.

"You probably should have ordered a month ago. A lot of places are sold out on this, but there are a lot of stores that have hoarded this, and I think you're going to see them at a reasonable price here in the next week and a half," Frostick said.

Frostick said you should be able to find some of these solar glasses, or eclipse glasses, online, but you might want to order sooner rather than later. Once you get your glasses, make sure they have no scratches and are ready to go.

In case you are wondering, the next solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024. Indiana and northwest Ohio will see a total eclipse in that event.

Here are some solar eclipse websites recommended by Frostick:

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