On August 21, 2017, the United States will experience its first total solar eclipse since 1979, and everyone will be trying to get the best view possible. Many people will be at work, school, or another type of facility when this event occurs in their area, and facility management will want to note some tips for potential viewers at their sites. Legrand Building Control Systems is offering would-be solar eclipse viewers a few tips to prepare as they look toward the sky. The company can offer some insight here; the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor Center uses its lighting control solution to enhance its star gazing parties during the late spring and summer months.
Here are some tips from Legrand’s lighting control experts to enhance the experience of watching the eclipse:
Dim the Lights: When the sky begins to grow dark, make sure to dim or turn your lights off. Light pollution will be a factor in the eclipse viewing experience. If your building or home has lights programmed to automatically trigger when the outdoor light gets below a certain level, take a little extra time to reprogram them for that day. The once in a lifetime view is well worth the effort. For commercial spaces, just make sure that there are no safety issues.
Many facility managers and building owners won’t have control over their building’s lights, but why not reach out and give a simple reminder of the eclipse and pass on the suggestion to hit the switch during the eclipse. Also, if the lighting system is connected to a network, then facility managers that need to make any scheduling changes to accommodate this event can do it remotely in real time.
And if you’re in a private office, at home, or braving the trip toward the path of totality, you can do your part and make sure any lights you can control get turned off and then step outside to an area with no or minimal light. Watch out for those street lights.
Get Outdoors: Even if we all can’t be in the line of totality, everyone in the U.S. will still be able to experience the solar eclipse. Just like with meteor showers and other astronomical events, the best place to be is in wide-open countryside. If possible, get out of the city where there is buildings and trees stand in the way of looking at the stars.
If you’re working that day, and don’t have the option to drive out of city limits, then check out any nearby rooftop decks, restaurants, or bars. Though they’ll be crowded, you’re going to have the best seat in the house if you can get above the skyline.
For those in charge of the rooftop decks, restaurants, and bars where people will be congregating, remember the above advice: any non-safety and non-code required lights can be considered for powering down during the few minutes the eclipse takes place.
Protect your Eyes, and your Lenses: We can’t offer eclipse advice without one of the most important reminders of all: do not look directly at the eclipse without eye protection.
While it may seem strange to use sun protection for your eyes as the sky gets darker, it is important to never look directly at the sun. Even if it is at 99 percent coverage from the moon. While it is technically safe to look at the eclipse during the full stage of totality, most experts highly advise against this as even a fraction of a second of viewing the sun can lead to permanent eye damage.
Seek out certified eclipse glasses if you intend to look directly at the eclipse. NASA says only four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17. Make sure your glasses are from one of these manufacturers and have the ISO 12312-2 certification on them.
Also remember that a solar eclipse can be extremely harmful to a camera lens. Specialized solar lenses can be purchased, depending on your camera or device. And no, an app on your phone won’t be enough. Just like your eyes, you need hardware to protect the lens.
For many people, this will be the one and only total solar eclipse they experience in their lifetime. Come prepared to any eclipse viewing sites or parties so you can enjoy the experience without worry.
And, as a final piece of advice, take some time to appreciate the sky above you even once the eclipse is done. Just as Legrand’s Wattstopper products helped the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor Center dim their lights for stargazing, you too can take the above steps to reduce light pollution year-round to help everyone look up and appreciate the night sky.
Resources From NASA
Below, NASA shares a map on its Eclipse 2017 website that shows the path of the moon’s umbral shadow — in which the sun will be completely obscured by the moon — during the total solar eclipse of August 21, as well as the fraction of the sun’s area covered by the moon outside the path of totality. The lunar shadow enters the United States near Lincoln City, OR, at 9:05amPDT. Totality begins in the United States in Lincoln City, OR, at 10:16amPDT. The total eclipse will end in Charleston, SC, at 2:48pmEDT. The lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09pmEDT. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout the United States.
To discover when you can get the best view for your location, visit the interactive map on the NASA website.