With all the publicity the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017 had, I heard many myths about these events that just aren’t true.
- MYTH: Your pet will go blind due to trying to view a solar eclipse. TRUTH: Animals are pretty smart in that they don’t do things that are going to hurt them for no reason...like stare at the Sun. Animals have no concept of time; they just understand when it’s light and when it’s dark. They are not going to try to figure out why it’s dark in the middle of they day. It would be no different than a cloud blocking the Sun temporarily. Also, what about all the wild animals and animals on farms? There’s not a sudden surge of birds flying into the ground, squirrels falling out of trees, or cattle getting lost out in the middle of fields after solar eclipses, because animals know better than to look at the Sun! Angela Speck of the National Solar Eclipse Task Force was quoted several times in various articles, such as this one and this one, that pets will not be trying to look at the Sun.
- MYTH: Animals will behave erratically during the eclipse. TRUTH: In very rare instances, maybe. Other than maybe preparing for nightfall, they will generally behave. Crickets and cicadas will chirp, birds will start to roost, etc., but animals aren’t going to go crazy. If you are experiencing an eclipse and your pet is nearby and is acting odd, it may be picking up on your emotions. Animals, such as dogs, are very good about picking up on non-verbal clues, scents, and tones we are emitting during exciting events, such as an eclipse, which they may react to.
- MYTH: It is dangerous to drive or go outside during an eclipse. TRUTH: It is no more dangerous to drive or go outside during an eclipse than any other time, unless you’re trying to look at the Sun without proper protection.
- MYTH: The Sun’s rays are more dangerous during an eclipse. TRUTH: There is no inherent additional danger associated with the Sun during an eclipse than any other time. The only potential additional danger is that during totality, your pupils will dilate in response to your surroundings being dark. This is perfectly normal and no different than what happens when you enter a dark room or turn your lights off. However, when totality ends and the Sun begins to emerge from behind the moon, your eyes will be slightly more sensitive to the light, given that it was just dark. This may cause damage to your eyes if you stare directly at the emerging Sun on purpose for a long period of time. If you see the Sun beginning to emerge, simply look away and put on protective eye wear.
- MYTH: Witnessing a solar eclipse can harm your unborn baby if you are pregnant. TRUTH: Again, going outside during an eclipse is no more “dangerous” than going outside on a normal day, pregnant or not. During a solar eclipse, the Sun is not emitting anything different than it normally is, nor is it emitting anything stronger than it normally does.
- MYTH: Bad or good juju. TRUTH: Solar eclipses aren’t signs of bad or good things to come, they aren’t going to bring you bad luck if they occur on your birthday or around your birthday, etc. They are just really cool celestial events!