There will be a stunning partial solar eclipse on Sunday, May 20th, as seen from San Diego. The moon will begin shrouding the sun at 5:27 p.m. and will cover 83 percent of the sun's surface at 6:40 p.m. The eclipse will take place while the sun is sinking toward the horizon, out over the ocean. It'll be easy to see, if skies are clear.
Do not -- repeat, do not -- look at the eclipse with your naked eye or with materials that don't protect your vision from UV and infrared radiation. You risk permanent and serious damage to your vision if you dont use the proper safety equipment to view a solar eclipse, and the damage can occur within seconds.You should use one of the black polymer solar filters that are being sold by Dennis Mammana, a noted sky photographer who lives in Borrego Springs.Mammana says on his website the filter is "used by amateur astronomers world-wide for SAFE eclipse viewing. It measures 1.5 x 3 inches, and is mounted in a cardboard frame with dimensions of 2.6 x 4.6 inches.Hold one filter up to the sun for safe naked-eye viewing, fasten two onto the objective (large) end of binoculars for a more close-up view of the action, or remove the filters from their frames and tape several together to cover your camera lens!"Mammana is selling the filters for $3. Send cash, check or money order, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope, to:Dennis Mammana P.O. Box 2071 Borrego Springs, CA 92004-2071Orders must be received by May 15th.I can't emphasize the need for safety enough. Dr. Sanford G. Feldman, an ophthalmologist at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, says a person can suffer solar retinopathy, or damage to the retina, especially the area of the eye known as the macula.Such damage can take away a persons ability to see details that are straight ahead of them, Feldman said. You cant recognize faces and it makes it hard to read street signs or see details on a TV screen. It can lead to legal blindness.Feldman emphasized that -- contrary to popular belief -- you cannot safely look at a solar eclipse by peering through exposed X-ray film or photographic film. Sunglasses also do not provide adequate protection, nor does the gray filter that is attached to a camera lens.Sky and Telescope magazine reports that, For safe viewing, most observers choose either a glass or Mylar solar filter mounted in a cell that fits securely over the front aperture of a telescope.NASA says, One of the most widely available filters for safe solar viewing is shade number 14 welders glass, which can be obtained from welding supply outlets. A popular inexpensive alternative is aluminized mylar manufactured specifically for solar observation. Unlike the welding glass, mylar can be cut to fit any viewing device, and doesnt break when dropped.For other stories from our news partner, go to utsandiego.com.