Local science organizations offer help to prepare for the solar eclipse

A student looks at the partially eclipsed sun in northern England

We are just 10 days away from the first total solar eclipse in nearly 100 years. Within the path of totality, you can safely witness the two or more minutes when the moon completely covers the sun with the naked eye.

That is largely because this year's spectacle will be the first in 99 years to span the entire continental United States - the world's third most populous nation - across a 70-mile-wide (113-km) path over 14 states, from the Pacific coast of OR to the Atlantic shore of SC. The eclipse is expected to have 81 percent coverage from this location. Looking at the sun directly, even just the sliver of sun visible before the total eclipse, can cause permanent eye damage. Free solar eclipse viewing glasses will be given out to participants, while supplies last.

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In addition to its preparation event, the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society also will help people experience the solar eclipse by having members out from noon to 3 p.m. August 21 in the plaza outside the main library, a group news release said. Homemade sun filters and regular sunglasses do not provide sufficient eye protection. Optometrists want to reinforce that the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters or other ISO-certified filters, such as "eclipse glasses" or handheld solar viewers.

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