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Kiwanis Club learns about Carbondale’s plans for solar eclipse viewing

Mark Stevens, the Administrator for Jefferson County Health Department, was the guest speaker for the Carmi Kiwanis Club on Thursday, Aug. 10.

Part of Stevens’ job involves disaster relief, and he and his employees have been working and preparing for the last year-and-a-half for the 120,000-200,000 additional people who will be traveling to Carbondale for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.

“Carbondale will be a mad house,” Stevens commented.

Luckily, in Carmi and White County, there will not be a total eclipse (only 99.3% coverage), and with safety glasses, Carmians will still be able to enjoy the show.

Carbondale has many activities scheduled for the weekend before the moment of darkness. NASA will be at SIU Carbondale’s football stadium broadcasting, and those wanting to watch the eclipse from Bald Knob Cross –which is the optimal place to watch– will have to pay $250 per person, with $50 per additional person in the car (a maximum of five). This is an event which hasn’t occured in 38 years. The last eclipse was in February of 1979, was only seen in five states, and bad weather on that day furthered dampened the occurrence.

“There will be many strange things happen if you look and listen for them,” said Stevens of the eclipse. “You will notice the birds stop chirping, the temperature might drop 10 degrees, and animals will get confused.”

Kiwanian Dr. Clint Taylor added to Stevens’ presentation by covering eye car during the eclipse. He spoke about all the ways a person’s eyes could get damaged by looking at the sun. Taylor stated, “really the only safe way to watch is on the television”.

Even if watching from inside a business or home, one must wear the approved viewing glasses or risk damage to the eyes. Taylor stressed wearing the approved glasses during the whole viewing session and not peaking around them, or looking at the sun constantly for more than just a few seconds.

“Your vision is not something you want to risk,” he said.

Stevens also noted that in seven years (2024), we will be in darkness again, and luckily, his agency will know what plans worked in Carbondale, and what plans need to be adjusted, as the next eclipse will happen much closer to White County