You’ve heard all the warnings about not looking at the sun during Monday’s eclipse, but Braintree police have another bit of advice for people hoping to see the celestial event.
“Tomorrow, please do not wear eclipse glasses while driving,” the police department warned on Twitter.
“Do not try and take selfies with the eclipse while driving,” it continued. “Eyes on the road not sun.”
Tomorrow, pls do not wear eclipse glasses while driving. Do not try and take selfies with the eclipse while driving.Eyes on the road not sun— Braintree Police (@BraintreePolice) August 20, 2017
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Eclipse glasses are not just sunglasses tinted a bit darker. In fact, the black polymer used to make the lenses of eclipse glasses ensures that they’re “hundreds of thousands of times stronger than regular sunglasses,” Alex Young of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center told the Atlantic.
When you have your eclipse glasses on, you shouldn’t be able to see any light that’s not as bright as the direct sun. So if you’ve tried on your glasses ahead of the eclipse, and notice that they make everything completely dark, the Braintree police department's warning seems a bit obvious.
They aren’t the only department to issue such an advisory, though. Nashville is one of the cities in the eclipse’s path of totality. Officials there issued a statement saying that there are a number of places to watch the eclipse, but “interstates and the travel lanes of busy city streets ARE NOT among them.”
“No eclipse-related road closures are planned,” the statement continues. “Citizens are strongly cautioned against walking into streets or stopping on an interstate to view the eclipse. Doing so is inherently dangerous.”
Still, some common sense warnings still need to be said — like the constantly repeated caution not to look directly at the sun.
Wearing improper eclipse glasses can cause the infrared radiation of the sun to “literally cook your retina,” a spokesman for American Astronomical Society told the Washington Post.
Experts are warning people to make sure their eclipse glasses are real before using them to stare at the sun, as counterfeits without adequate protection have been circulating. NASA suggests you refer to the AAS Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers to see a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses that are verified as compliant with the international safety standard.
Though some people are advising that you can view the eclipse through the selfie-mode of your smartphone camera (as long as you’re not driving while doing so, of course), the official ruling seems unsure.
Tongalp Tezel, a retina expert at Columbia University Medical Center, acknowledged that many people think it’s safe to see the eclipse in selfie mode, as it’s in the background, so you aren’t directly facing the sun.
“What they may not realize,” she said in a statement, “is that the screen of your phone reflects the ultraviolet rays emitted during an eclipse directly toward your eye, which can result in a solar burn.”