Celestial Watch Party for CHRISTUS Associates at System Office to be held on Monday

Approximately 1,300 pairs of eclipse glasses, that’s how many will be made available to the CHRISTUS Associates working on Monday at the health system’s headquarters in Irving, Texas. The Associates will be given the opportunity on their lunch breaks to come outside and safely view a celestial phenomenon.

Eclipse glasses
A sampling of just some of the glasses CHRISTUS Health has stocked up on in advance of Monday’s event

For the first time in 99 years, a solar eclipse will cross the entire continental United States. Its path of totality from Oregon to South Carolina is approximately 170 miles wide.

Scientific natural phenomenon. Total solar eclipse with diamond ring.

What is a Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun. The darkness is the moon’s shadow. This happens during the special coincidence when the moon and the Sun become the same angular size.  The Sun is much wider than the moon, but during an eclipse it is also farther away, so they coincidentally appear to be the same size in our sky.

Even if you aren’t directly in the path of totality,  there are ways to indirectly take in this phenomena.  When the sun is about halfway or three-quarters of the way covered, and if you are near a shade tree, you can look down to the ground. You will see the sunlight from the eclipse filtering down and see crescents on the ground because the leaves act like pin-hole cameras. There are some trees in the front parking lot of CHRISTUS headquarters, and CHRISTUS Associates are sure to glance at the ground to take a look.

solar ground
The gaps between tree leaves act like pinhole cameras

What about the Visibility from Irving, Texas?

In North Texas, we’ll see just 75 percent of the sun blocked by the moon.  It won’t be total eclipse here, but it still is crucial to view the phenomenon safety. That’s why the special viewing equipment will be made available for CHRISTUS Associates during their lunch breaks.

The best time to view the eclipse in Irving will be between 11:40 a.m. and 2:40 p.m. Monday.

Associates can come pick up their glasses downstairs in CHRISTUS Health’s largest auditorium. While there, they’ll pick up their protective eye gear along with some Eclipse Chips. Frito-Lay’s Sun Chips seemed like the perfect snack to pair with this event.

Keeping Your Eyes Safe…WARNING

Monday, all eyes might be on the sky, but if you don’t protect yourself your eyes could be at risk for some long-term damage.

It is simple.  Don’t look up with your eyes uncovered.  And, no, standard sunglasses will not protect you.  In some cases they could make it worse, damaging your retina and causing permanent vision loss. Any certified solar eclipse glasses must meet a worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. With out them the eyes’ retinas could get burned causing blindness.

There are a lot of ways to indirectly view the eclipse a little more safely.  If you are going to take it in, it is important to have special viewing equipment like eclipse glasses, binoculars or telescopes. Even with filters, and the indirect viewing measures one can take to make the viewing experience safe, it is still impossible to 100 percent safely block intense sunlight that is known to damage retinas. That’s why, even with filters, it is best to not stare at the sun for minutes at a time.  Your tissues and fluids in the eye can still over-heat, so to avoid this, look away often to cool your eyes.

NASA has a special Eclipse 101 web page set up if you are interested in learning more about safely viewing and finding out more about the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.

Here at CHRISTUS Health’s headquarters we’re going to minimize glimpsing at the bright sun with our eyes, and instead use our smart phone to go Facebook Live on Monday.  Check out our CHRISTUS Health Facebook Page during Monday’s North Texas viewing time.  We’re going to take it in and talk to some CHRISTUS Health Associates as we admire the rarity of a workday celestial watch party.