The Great Eclipse of 2017 is behind us now. Did you get a good look? (Not TOO good a look, or you may regret it in the morning)
Today’s eclipse cut a path directly across the United States, in a line from Oregon to South Carolina.
Millions of people jammed the route of the eclipse to see the event, as the moon moved into a precise pattern to effectively block the rays of the sun, turning daylight to darkness.
You could view the eclipse through special eclipse glasses, or watch it on TV, or make yourself a pinhole viewer and watch the shadow it cast. Looking at the eclipse without aid of the special glasses, though, was a recipe for disaster. You can get blurred vision or blind spots after watching partial eclipses without protection, even if there is just a tiny little crescent of sun left in the sky.
The reason is that your retinas have no pain receptors to tell you that you’re frying them, unlike your skin which will let you know you’re getting a sunburn or that pan on the stove is too hot to lift.
While it was ok to view the TOTAL eclipse with the naked eye once the moon had completely blocked the sun, the INSTANT you could see a sliver of light appear as the moon began to leave was the time to put the glasses back on or look away. There will likely be people who wake up tomorrow morning with vision problems that they will probably have for life.
Was it worth it? That’s a question they’ll have to ask themselves.
If you are about to dig without calling 811 first, and then hit and ignite a gas line, “was it worth it?” is also a question you’ll have to ask yourself.
Just like the specially designed glasses were meant to protect your eyes from harm during the eclipse, 811 is there to protect you and the underground infrastructure from harm every time you dig.
BUT – just like the eclipse glasses, if you don’t use the protection, you don’t get the protection.
Be smart. Dial 811 before you dig. All of us here at South Dakota One Call are standing by ready to serve you.
We live in an age where we can predict eclipses down to the second. A thousand years ago, ancient cultures tried to understand why the sun temporarily vanished from the sky, so they came up with various reasons for what caused a solar eclipse.
Legends about solar eclipses involved mythical figures eating or stealing the sun. (Would you like fries with that?) Still others saw it as a sign of angry or quarreling gods. It’s doubtful that anyone saw an eclipse as punishment for not dialing 811 before digging!
And if you missed today’s eclipse, don’t worry – we’re due to see another here in the United States on April 8, 2024!
Until next week, safe digging!