A Total Eclipse of the Sun Coming Monday August 21st

Northwest Mississippi

By: Steve Dodd

Millions of Americans are anxiously awaiting the total eclipse of the sun occurring Monday, August 21st. What makes this so special for the USA, is the last one was in 1918 and the next one will be in 2316. Another fact that adds to the excitement is the eclipse only crosses the United States.

During the eclipse, the moon will cross in front of the sun and a giant shadow will be cast upon the Earth. The shadow will enter the continental United States on the coast of Oregon around 10:15 a.m. PDT. It will then travel through the heart of the country finally exiting South Carolina around 2:49 p.m. EDT. We will see the gradual effect of the eclipse between 11:50 a.m. and 2:50 p.m. locally. The total eclipse will be around 1:20 p.m. and will only last a couple minutes. The times are approximates.

Some of the DeSoto County schools are using the event as a teaching tool and a fun event for the students, staff and faculty. Letters were sent to parents from the participating schools listing several safety precautions and requiring a signature from the parents allowing the student to participate. Only students who have parental permission will be allowed outside for the viewing event. Others will remain in the building and view the eclipse via on-line programs or television. All students will be able to participate in this educational event.

Participating students, faculty and staff will receive special glasses which conforms to the ISO 12312-2 requirements which state the filters must be specifically designed to allow the user to look at the sun. There is a caution that the user should not maintain a constant stare at the sun and to take a break looking away from the sun at regular intervals.

The letter also advised parents to discuss safety precautions with their children even if the school is not hosting a viewing event. Classes will go on as scheduled so some children might be at recess, class changes, athletic practice, regular school dismissal, etc.

Parents of children at participating schools are encouraged to join their children for the experience but they must supply their own glasses. Students may also be “checked out” by parents if they want to attend another off-site event. Some parents may want to keep their children home the full day. If so, a note requesting the absence must be sent to the school. All approved student absences will be allowed and considered excused for an “educational experience.” All other absences will be subject to the normal absentee policy.

This is a once in a lifetime event and should be experienced by all. Proper equipment and following safety procedures is a must to protect your eyes. The total eclipse will be talked about for generations to come. Make it an enjoyable, educational and memorable day.