On Aug. 21 at 11:43 a.m., many Minnesotans will have their eye to the sky hoping to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon moves between the earth and the sun, blocks the sun's light, and casts a shadow on the earth.
Unfortunately, Minnesota isn't in the path of totality, which means that we won't get to see the full solar eclipse where the sky gets dark.
"We will see a partial eclipse, so we'll see the moon block part of the sun, we will not see a total eclipse," said Dr. Tina McCarty of the Eye Care Center in Maple Grove.
Dr. McCarty says trying to view that partial eclipse can be a risky move if you're not careful. If you try looking at the partial eclipse without a specialized viewer, the exposed sun rays could harm your retina.
"The retina is the delicate tissue in the back of the eye that actually visualizes the image and interprets it for the brain, so the brain knows what it's looking at," Dr. McCarty said. "It can actually fry that retina."
Frying the retina could result in permanent blindness. In this case, normal sunglasses won't even do the job. People should only view the eclipse using glasses with a special filter. But Dr. McCarty cautions that not all filters are made equally. The only safe filter is labeled with a specific number.
"We're looking for this, ISO 12312-2," Dr. McCarty said. "That means that the solar filter has met the safety requirements for direct observation of the sun."
Besides the number, there's one other key way to check: if you put the glasses on, you shouldn't be able to see anything.
Meanwhile, if you're thinking of viewing the eclipse through a camera or telescopic lens -- don't.
"The light risk and the rays are compounded by looking through a binocular, a telescope, any type of device like that, even if your solar viewers are on, it would not be safe," Dr. McCarty said
Locally, the eclipse will begin on Monday at 11:43 a.m., peak at 1:06 p.m., and end at 2:29 p.m.
Aug. 15, 2017