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Government releases recommendations for safely observing the upcoming solar eclipse

A special lens should be used to safely observe the eclipse. It should have a filter that blocks out the sun's harmful rays and an ISO 12312-2 certification label. Another safe option is to use glass from a grade 14 or higher welder’s mask (they are scarce in shops), or failing that grade 12 or higher.

Under the slogan "Chile, safely look at the sky and keep it in your memories, not in your retina," Health Minister Emilio Santelices and Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation Minister Andrés Couve led the presentation of the campaign to encourage all Chileans to enjoy the eclipse safely.

Both officials were in the Las Camelias courtyard in the La Moneda Palace when they delivered these recommendations for observing the astronomical event with appropriate devices throughout the country.

"The message is clear: staring at the sun can cause serious damage to the retina, even if it doesn’t hurt at the time. It can cause long-term deterioration to vision, which may be irreversible and can even cause blindness", explained Minister Santelices, emphasizing the importance of avoiding any kind of injury.

"We suggest that everyone who wishes to enjoy the solar eclipse on July 2 do so safely, with a suitable device purchased at an appropriate store, regardless of where they are in Chile", he said.

For his part, Science Minister Andrés Couve said that his ministry is focused on creating an opportunity for people to approach science through this unique astronomical phenomenon, which is also of special relevance given that Chile has 40% of global terrestrial observation capacity, a number that will increase to 70% by the year 2025.

"We are especially committed to making this a safe eclipse, as this observation requires adequate protection. Therefore, the government has arranged to purchase 600,000 lenses that will be distributed to public schools for the afternoon of July 2", stated Minister Couve.

Recommendations

Both ministers agreed on the general recommendation not to directly look at the sun, since sunlight can severely damage the eyes, with or without an eclipse. A special lens should be used with a filter that blocks out the sun's harmful rays and has an ISO 12312-2 certification label.

Another safe option is to use glass from a grade 14 or higher welder's mask (they are scarce in shops), or failing that grade 12 or higher. A lower grade of glass should never be used, as it does not provide sufficient protection. Also remember that the eclipse should be observed for short, intermittent periods (with pauses).

Finally, children of any age should only observe the solar eclipse with the permission and the supervision of their parents or a responsible adult at all times to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate use of precautionary measures, as this could have irreversible consequences for their vision.

How to Identify an Appropriate Device

Lenses: Make sure that they have an ISO 12312-2 certification label, that the filter is in perfect condition without any damage, scratches or perforations, and that it is less than three years old. Lenses should be purchased exclusively from appropriate stores.

Welder’s mask glass: These must be grade 14 or higher, or failing that grade 12. Never use a lower grade for any reason. They should be purchased exclusively from appropriate stores.

When looking at the ground with these devices, it should not be possible to see objects or people. If objects are visible, the device could be counterfeit or damaged, even if it appears to have an ISO 12312-2 certification label or is classified as grade 12 or 14 welder’s mask glass.

What NOT to use: Regular sunglasses should never be used to observe the eclipse. It is also dangerous to look at the sun through a video or photographic camera, smart phone, binoculars, telescope, or any other optical device without using a certified sunlight filter. Homemade filters, such as smoked glass, should never be used to look at the sun. This also holds for radiography glass, as none of these devices will protect the eyes from damage caused by ultraviolet and infrared light.

Astronomical event

A total solar eclipse will be visible throughout Chile on July 2, 2019. The moon’s shadow will cover 100% of the sun from the southern Atacama region to the northern Coquimbo region.

Total darkness will begin around 4:40 p.m., when the moon will completely block the sun for approximately two minutes and 35 seconds. However, the spectacle will last more than an hour from when the sun begins to be blocked until it fully reappears.

The Atacama region will have six special observation points. Activities are planned in towns such as Caleta Chañaral de Aceituno, Incahuasi, Cachiyuyo and Domeyko.

The Coquimbo region is expecting some 350,000 tourists for the eclipse. This region is already famous for its observatories and astro-tourism facilities, as it provides over 60 tourist services linked to this experience. There will be 16 observation points in the region on the day of the eclipse in towns such as Paihuano, Rio Hurtado and Vicuña.

There will also be events connected with the eclipse across the rest of the country. The scientific community, museums and schools are already organizing these in the Metropolitan Region. Inclusive initiatives will be held at locations such as the Interactive Museum (MIM) and the Santiago Planetarium so that everyone can enjoy this great celebration.

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