The general public is advised that on Monday, August 21, 2017, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis and, by extension, the Caribbean Region, will experience a solar eclipse. A spectacle in the sky occurs when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth and either partially or totally blocks the light rays of the sun.

Persons living within a narrow 70-mile corridor that traverses the United States of America from Oregon (in the Northwest) to South Carolina (in the Southeast) will be able to see the total eclipse that is expected to last 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Along that US corridor, the eclipse will effectively turn day into a dark twilight during which time stars will be visible. However, due to the geographic location of St. Kitts and Nevis, we will NOT experience a total eclipse of the Sun. The partial eclipse we are expected to see will be such that between 50 -75% of the Sun’s rays will be blocked by the moon. Once the weather permits, the Sun’s shimmering outer atmosphere or corona will be visible for 2 – 3 hours, from about 2:20 pm to 4:50 pm local time. The maximum view should occur at approximately 3:40 pm.

The Ministry of Health wishes to advise the public that a solar eclipse is a very rare occurrence in nature, and creates an awesome visual experience when the eclipse can be seen in its totality. (The last total solar eclipse to darken the US mainland occurred in 1979, and another one is not expected in that country until the year 2024.) The Ministry further advises that although the solar eclipse is a natural curiosity for many individuals, every precaution must be taken if such persons wish to watch it safely. As such, the following guidelines are recommended:

1) No one should ever view the Sun with the naked eye or by looking at it through devices such as sunglasses, binoculars or telescopes.

2) Looking directly at the Sun can injure your eyes. It is also unsafe to use ordinary sunglasses, smoked glass, or polarizing filters.

3) It is recommended that you wear special-purpose, safe solar filters such as “eclipse glasses or viewers” or special hand-held solar viewers which are compliant with the International Standard ISO 123 12-2 safety standards for such products. Persons using such glasses or viewers should not remove them while looking at the Sun.

4) Motorists should not operate a vehicle while attempting to look at an eclipse. All drivers must be sure to follow road safety regulations at all times.

5) One of the safest ways to watch the eclipse is via the television or internet.

6) Parents or guardians with young children should closely monitor their children during the eclipse, as a means of ensuring that they are not left unattended outdoors looking up into the sky and, in the process, damage their eyesight.

7) If you experience any discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse make sure to visit your eye specialist for a complete medical examination of the eyes

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