Eclipse

A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. Looking directly at the Sun is unsafe except during the brief phase of a solar eclipse, known as totality. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or hand held-solar viewers. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime. – https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

An eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won’t want to miss, but you must carefully follow safety procedures. Don’t let the requisite warnings scare you away from witnessing this singular spectacle! You can experience the eclipse safely, but it is vital that you protect your eyes at all times with the proper solar filters. No matter what recommended technique you use, do not stare continuously at the sun. Take breaks and give your eyes a rest! Do not use sunglasses: they don’t offer your eyes sufficient protection. The only acceptable glasses are safe viewers designed for looking at the sun and solar eclipses. One excellent resource on how to determine if your viewers are safe can be found here:  https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/iso-certification

Viewing with Protection — Experts suggests that one widely available filter for safe solar viewing is welders glass of sufficiently high number. The only ones that are safe for direct viewing of the Sun with your eyes are those of Shade 12 or higher. These are much darker than the filters used for most kinds of welding. If you have an old welder’s helmet around the house and are thinking of using it to view the Sun, make sure you know the filter’s shade number. If it’s less than 12 (and it probably is), don’t even think about using it to look at the Sun. Many people find the Sun too bright even in a Shade 12 filter, and some find the Sun too dim in a Shade 14 filter — but Shade 13 filters are uncommon and can be hard to find. The AAS Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page  doesn’t list any suppliers of welder’s filters, only suppliers of special-purpose filters made for viewing the Sun.To find out more about eyewear and handheld viewers go to https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/eyewear-viewers .

Telescopes with Solar Filters – Eclipses are best viewed directly when magnified, which means a telescope with a solar filter or solar telescopes. These will give you a magnified view that will clearly show the progress of an eclipse. Never look through a telescope without a solar filter on the large end of the scope. And never use small solar filters that attach to the eyepiece (as found in some older, cheaper telescopes.) https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/optics-filters

Pinhole and Related Projection Methods (link is external) — Pinhole projectors and other projection techniques are a safe, indirect viewing technique for observing an image of the sun. These provide a popular way for viewing solar eclipses. One viewing technique is to project an image of the sun onto a white surface with a projecting telescope. This is explained further here: http://www.astrosociety.org/education/publications/tnl/05/stars2.html

The Exploratorium demonstrates how to view a planet in transit or an eclipse safely by projecting the image with binoculars: http://www.exploratorium.edu/transit/how.html.  There are commercially available projection telescopes as well.

Besides eye protection during solar eclipse viewing, one needs to pay attention to their personal needs and surrounding.

Vaccines Save Lives And Are Safe

National Immunization Awareness Month celebrates the important of vaccines

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month as a reminder that vaccines protect against a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.  Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from serious diseases like measles and whooping cough (pertussis).

“Most young parents in the U.S. have never seen the devastating effects of diseases like measles and polio, but those diseases still exist,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.  “Children who don’t receive recommended vaccines are at risk of not only getting those diseases, but of having a severe case of those diseases.  You can’t predict if your child will become sick with a vaccine-preventable disease, or how severe the illness will be, but you can provide the best protection by following the recommended immunization schedule and getting your child the vaccines they need, when they need them.”

Many vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in other parts of the world.  For example, measles is brought into the U.S. by unvaccinated travelers who are infected while in other countries.  When measles gets into communities of unvaccinated people in the U.S. (such as people who refuse vaccines for religious, philosophical, or personal reasons), outbreaks are more likely to occur.  Illinois experienced a measles outbreak in 2015 in a daycare in which 12 of the 13 cases were infants too young to be vaccinated.  Vaccines don’t just protect your child; they help protect the entire community?especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated.

The U.S. has the safest vaccine supply in its history.  Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored after they are licensed to ensure they are very safe.  The vaccination schedule also has been scientifically shown to be safe.  Although children continue to get several vaccines up to their second birthday, these vaccines do not “overload” the immune system.  Vaccines contain only a tiny amount of the antigens (the parts of the germs that cause the body’s immune system to respond) that your child encounters every day, even if your child receives several vaccines in one day.

When a child develops a disease like whooping cough, chickenpox, or the flu, they may miss several days of school.  It could also mean lost money because a parent or caregiver will need to stay home to provide care and make trips to the doctor.

The State of Illinois requires vaccinations to protect children from a variety of diseases before they can enter school.  For school entrance, students must show proof of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, haemophilus influenza type b, hepatitis b, and varicella, as well as pneumococcal and now meningococcal (depending on age) vaccinations.  For more information about immunizations, including vaccination schedules for infants, children, teens and adults, visit http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/immunization.

Families who need help paying for childhood vaccines should ask their health care professional about the Vaccines for Children program, which provides vaccines at no cost to eligible children who do not otherwise have access to recommended childhood vaccines.  For information, call (312) 746-6050 in Chicago or (217) 785-1455 for the rest of the state.