Rare Solar Eclipse Has Special Mid-South Connection

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Sky watchers are just two months away from witnessing an historic event. A total solar eclipse is set to happen across the United States on August 21st.

Solar eclipses have been around for thousands of years, but for many of us, they are a rare sight. A solar eclipse happens when the moon blocks our view of the sun.


"The shadow of the moon is falling onto the earth. That shadow is smaller than the earth, so you have to be in the right place," says David Maness, supervisor of the Sharpe Planetarium in Memphis.

Come August, the Mid-South will be in a very good place for the solar eclipse. The "path of totality", or the path where the moon completely covers the sun, is about 150 miles across. That path is just a stone's throw north of the Mid-South, meaning you won't have to go far to witness something incredible. So what can we expect from the eclipse in the Mid-South?

"We're going to be somewhere between 93 and 94 percent coverage of the sun here in Memphis. That's significant," says Maness. "It won't get nighttime dark here. It might seem like dusk or late afternoon or near sunset for a few minutes."

Just remember to stay safe during the eclipse. We are talking about staring at the sun, after all. Get yourself some eclipse glasses to view the event without harming your eyes. So how do the glasses work?

"It's a very dense two-way mirror, so it only allows like one-tenth of one percent of the brightness of the sun to come through," says Maness.

Those eclipse glasses have a special mid-south connection. One Bartlett business is working overtime to ensure millions will be able to view this rare event. American Paper Optics is the world's largest producer of paper 3-D glasses. Now the company is adding eclipse glasses to its resume.

"We've produced over two billion paper 3-D glasses in our 26 years, so if you've put on a pair of paper 3-D glasses, they're most likely a pair by American Paper Optics," says John Jerit, president of American Paper Optics.

American Paper Optics has already sold tens of millions of eclipse glasses nationwide with more orders coming in every day.

"Everyone from small hotel rooms that are in the path of totality to people encouraging it so that students and children learn more about astronomy, science, mathematics, and everything that's involved with what's going on with this eclipse," says Jerit.

It doesn't hurt getting help from a popular scientist to promote the educational value of the eclipse, either.

"We just signed Bill Nye up to be a spokesmodel for American Paper Optics and for the eclipse in general because we want to build awareness for this thing so people will know about it," says Jerit.

The goal for American Paper Optics is to sell one million pairs of eclipse glasses for the August 21st event, so thanks to this Bartlett company, a national event will now have a unique Mid-South connection.


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