Why Using a Welding Helmet to View the Eclipse May Be a Bad Idea

I have heard countless numbers of farmers tell me that they are going to view the eclipse with their welding helmet. According to NASA, make sure that you are using a shade 12 or higher welder’s glass; any shade less is not safe to look directly at the sun.

Gene Willers of Neligh, NE recently gave this testimony of how his eye was damaged by an eclipse when he was 13 years old in 1963.

“There was a lot of news about the eclipse…They gave advice to not look at it and those type things.” After all looking at the sun during an eclipse can cause retinal burn or permanent eye damage.

“Being a farm kid and a 13-year old who knows a lot, so I thought ‘It can’t hurt to look at it through a welder’s shield or helmet .’ Just to be on the safe side, I looked through one eye – it was my right eye. I didn’t really look for a long time because it was blinding, even with the welder’s glasses…but apparently it didn’t take a long time.”

Little did he know the damage that had been done to his right eye.

“The next day when I woke up my eye was matted shut and swollen. I went to an optometrist and of course it was like a sunburn on my eye, plus there were indicators that retinal damage may have occurred. Not too soon after that I had to wear glasses to correct some things.”

Please protect your eyes and use proper eclipse viewing glasses. You don’t want to turn your eyes into these.


Find Out When the Eclipse Will Begin From Your Exact Location

Here is an interactive website that shows the exact time of the eclipse for your area. I clicked on the football field at the Sargent School and came up with the following times. The times listed are in Universal Time. To convert to Central Time, subtract 5 hours.

So . . . the partial eclipse will officially start at 11:32:40.2.  The total eclipse will be from 12:56:56.7 till 12:57:52.5, and the partial eclipse will end at 14:23:47.0. Set your alarm and plan to meet us for a party at the Sargent football field on August 21. Lunch will be served at noon with a freewill donation. The library will provide free eclipse glasses at the event.  All you need to bring is a lawn chair.

If you will be out of town for the eclipse, you can still get free eclipse glasses at the Sargent Library.


Viewers on the Edge of the Shadow may see Strange Phenomena

Sargent is not located on the center of the total eclipse path. Totality will only last for a little under one minute in our town. However, that doesn’t mean that Sargent isn’t in a prime viewing area. At Space.com, Joe Rao makes the case that sometimes people prefer to be closer to the edge of the eclipse path. This is because certain strange eclipse phenomena will last 10 times longer when you are only a few miles from the edge. One of these phenomenons is called shadow bands.

As the moon almost covers the sun, it causes small strips of light to be projected through the earth’s atmosphere and dance on the ground. These are called shadow bands, and it may almost look like little snakes moving around.  A good way to be able to see these shadow bands more clearly is to spread a white sheet on the ground. As I said before, we should be able to see these shadow bands a lot longer than those in the center of the shadow.

You can read the rest of the article here.  An ‘Edgy’ Suggestion on Where to Watch the Total Solar Eclipse


The Full Eclipse Will Be An Emotional High

I’ve heard many people express that they think this eclipse talk is making a big deal about nothing. Well, if we have cloudy weather that day, this statement may be true. It will also come true if one decides to sit inside during the eclipse and watch it on TV or internet. However if the day is clear and you go outside and actually experience the full eclipse for yourself, I guarantee that you will have an emotional experience to remember.

In the book Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses by John Dvorak, the author tells of the reaction that James Fenimore Cooper had during a full eclipse of the sun in 1806.

Three minutes of darkness elapsed. “A breathless intensity of interest was felt by all.” It was “a majestic spectacle” and “one of humiliation and awe.” Then the stars retired and light returned. He likened “this sudden, joyous return of light, after the eclipse, to nothing of the kind that is familiarly known.” It was not like the dawning of day or the end of a sudden storm. It was what one would “expect of the advent of a heavenly vision.” He looked at his family and neighbors. He saw women standing with streaming eyes and clasped hands. The most educated men he knew stood silent in thought. Several minutes passed before anyone spoke, then it was in whispers. Cooper ended his account by stating, “Never have I beheld any spectacle which so plainly . . . taught the lesson of humility as a total eclipse of the sun.”

Yes the upcoming eclipse will be an event you won’t want to miss, so be prepared and plan your work schedule so that you can be outside when the shadow passes over your area. Here in Sargent we are planning to have a viewing on the school football field starting at 11:30 a.m. We hope to see you there.

Sargent Has Been Through a 1,160 Year Eclipse Drought

I read an interesting quote recently from the book Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses by John Dvorak.

“Within the United States, an eclipse drought is about to end for the small community of North Platte, Nebraska. The most recent total solar eclipse visible from that location was on July 29, 957 C.E. The next will be on August 21, 2017, an eclipse drought of 1,160 years.”

Now I am assuming that this fact also applies to Sargent, Nebraska. The average frequency for a total eclipse of the sun for any given point on the Earth’s surface is once in 375 years. After August 21, the eclipse drought will be over! So join the community on the school’s football field on August 21, starting at 11:30 a.m., and let’s celebrate. Thanks to a grant from the STAR Library Network – STEM Learning in Libraries, our library is able to provide free eclipse glasses for everyone before and during the event.

How to Safely View an Eclipse

Come get your free eclipse viewing glasses at the library to be prepared for the total eclipse on August 21. The eclipse will be an awesome sight to behold. It can also be a time of severe eye injury if the proper viewing equipment isn’t used. This is some of the information printed on the back of the library’s eclipse glasses

  • Make sure your viewing glasses are from a reputable manufacturer. (The library’s glasses are made by Rainbow Symphony in California.) You can also check the ISO number (should be 12312-2), but be aware that anyone making fake glasses can put this number on them.
  • Inspect your glasses before you use them. There should be no scratches or pinholes on the filters. Make sure the filters are not coming loose from the frames.
  • It is fine to use the eclipse glasses on top of your regular glasses.
  • Make sure you use the viewing glasses until the sun is completely eclipsed by the moon. During the full eclipse it is safe to remove your glasses and stare directly at the full eclipse, but as soon as only a minute sliver of the sun starts to appear again, put your eclipse glasses back on.
  • Do not use your eclipse glasses to look through a camera lens, telescope, binocular, or other optical device. You need to use a different optical filter for these devices

Here at the library, (thanks to a grant from STAR Library Network – STEM Learning in Libraries) we have lots of eclipse glasses to give away, so there is no reason for not being prepared. If you will be in Sargent on August 21, the city plans to have a viewing party/picnic on the school football field starting at 11:30 a.m.  We hope to see you there.


Nature’s Wrath by Jason N. McKown

Local author Jason (Jake) McKown has published his first book, and it arrived at our library today. The subject deals with the horror of what can happen when scientists experiment with cloning and genetic engineering.  It is purely fictional, but very scary. It’s not the type of book that you want to read before bedtime. One of the horrible creatures in the book is a cross between a jungle mosquito, a cicada, and an earthworm. That doesn’t sound very ferocious, but it terrorizes the whole country.  Jake even managed to include Sargent, Nebraska and Comstock Nebraska in his story.

So be sure to congratulate Jake when you see him, and come to the library to check out his book.

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