Eclipse Puerto Rico (and how not to view!)

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November 3, 2013 by kittynh

I have enjoyed many lunar eclipses from my yard here in New Hampshire.

I saw a solar eclipse as a child when I lived in the DC area, but my second solar eclipse was by seen almost by accident.  Every year when my children were young I would travel to Puerto Rico to escape the cold of New England.

light clouds, that would open up for a peek!

light clouds, that would open up for a peek!

Our family always had a rule when we were in Puerto Rico, we would only listen to all Spainish radio stations.  It was only while changing stations we heard a bit of English that informed us to “wear eye protection”.  We soon discovered what time the eclipse was going to happen and planned an eclipse pic nic at the beach.

Our family enjoyed swimming, BBQ, and the fun of mid day darkness that is a solar eclipse.  It wasn’t a full eclipse, but we didn’t care.  It was a very unexpected plus to our vacation.

I pointed both the video and the still camera in the general direction of the eclipse, expecting to go blind at any moment.  I would not recommend the method I used to get even this poor video and photographs, sort of “It’s in that general direction, look only enough to get a photograph.”

The fun part is the Commander of the Navy Base was issuing warnings on the base radio station, giving reminders every few minutes, (or so it seemed) that “Welders glass is not safe enough!  You must not look at the eclipse!” and “Viewing the eclipse is not safe unless you are trained in how to do so!”  His advice seemed to be we should all go hide in the darkest corner of the basement to avoid going blind.  He was a man obviously used to be obeyed, but the children soon learned to imitate him and kept us laughing with their “If you look at the eclipse your head will explode!  Exploding heads are a direct violation of Navy Policy!”

No heads exploded, but I still would not recommend the chances we took!  Phil Plait in his book “Bad Astronomy” has a good chapter about exactly WHY looking at an eclipse is bad for you.  It’s not the looking, it’s what happens after you stop looking and look away that causes the damage!

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