Viewing the Solar Eclipse on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River | Mountain Travel Sobek

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Viewing the Solar Eclipse on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River


On August 21 we'll be four days and 70 miles along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River—right in the path of the 2017 solar eclipse, which will sweep across Idaho many other U.S. states! At around 11:30am (MDT) guests will don their complimentary eclipse glasses and watch as the landscape darkens eerily and then celebrate with solar eclipse-themed treats and a fun day on the river. For safe viewing of the eclipse we asked our chief medical consultant Dr. Howard Backer for some advice.


Why should I protect my eyes during a solar eclipse?

It is common knowledge that both short-term and long-term exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun can cause damage to the eye.

Short-term exposure from viewing an eclipse most commonly causes sunburn-like damage to the cornea (the outer clear window to the eye) called photo- or UV keratitis. This type of problem commonly occurs in the winter from sun reflection off the snow (snow-blindness) and to welders who do not use adequate eye protection. It causes intense pain and loss of vision but usually fully heals within 24 to 48 hours.

Prolonged direct visualization of an eclipse can also result in damage to the retina, which is the nerve layer at the back of the eye. This does not cause pain but can result in permanent visual loss from injury to the macula, the area of the retina that has the most nerve endings to produce the highest visual detail. Long-term exposure of the eye to UV can result in many other problems that can impair vision, such as cataracts, like the risk of skin changes and skin cancer from chronic sun exposure.


What eye protection do you recommend?

There are several ways to protect the eyes to view the upcoming eclipse of the sun. The indirect means of projecting the image through a pinhole will not be satisfying for most people. Direct observation requires special lenses that block nearly all the visible and invisible light spectrum. Why buying eye protection you should look for:

  • A marking on the package that the product meets the international standard (ISO 12312-2) recommended by NASA and other scientific organizations.
  • Products from these four companies, which meet this standard: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17. (These products are widely available in stores or over the internet but may be in short supply close to the date of the eclipse.)


What don't you recommend?

  • Do not wear usual sunglasses. These are not adequate for viewing the eclipse.
  • Do not view with the naked eye. Only during the total eclipse, which will last only about 2 minutes over a narrow geographic band can the eclipse be viewed with the naked eye. At all other times and from all other locations, special eye protection must be worn always.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.


Where can I find out more information?

You can refer to the NASA solar eclipse site or site for more information.