Solar eclipse myths debunked

Myth: You can look at the sun during a solar eclipse.

The only time it is safe to view the sun is during totality, which will max out to near 3 minutes along the path. In southeastern Wisconsin, you need to wear protective eyewear or risk damaging your eyes.

Myth: Total solar eclipses are very rare.

Solar eclipses happen every 18 months or so; however, given any one spot on Earth, the path of totality will pass through once every 375 years. They happen less than every two years on earth, but they’re more isolated than you would think.

Myth: Solar eclipses are harmful to babies.

Too much sun is bad for anyone. Solar eclipses directly are not harmful to babies or mothers who are pregnant.

Myth: The sun and moon are the same size during an eclipse.

The sun and moon stay the same size. During an eclipse, they’re perfectly positioned in a way that they become the same size from our vantage point. Since the sun is 400 times bigger, but the moon is 400 times closer, they appear to be the same size.

Myth: In totality, it gets completely dark.

If you’re in the path of totality, and you get to experience darkness, it will not be completely dark. A good comparison is similar to 30-40 minutes after dusk. Animals and insects will be confused because they think night is upon them.

Myth: Solar eclipses will continue on until the end of the milky way.

The moon is spiraling slowly away from Earth at a rate of an inch or two per year. In about 600 million years, the moon will be too far away from Earth for this planet to experience solar eclipses.

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