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County preparing for upcoming solar eclipse

With a total solar eclipse set to pass over Wyoming on Aug. 21, Park County Homeland Security coordinator Martin Knapp met with community members June 14 to begin preparing for the upcoming eclipse and address safety concerns.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun. During those brief moments when the moon covers the sun, day will turn into night, making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona (the sun s outer atmosphere). Bright stars and planets will also become visible. One concern is the added traffic coming through the area to see the eclipse. While Cody is not in the

primary zone like Jackson, Riverton and Casper, Knapp said there should still be a decent turnout in Cody.

I m expecting a second Fourth of July week, he said. Lisa Constantine, visitor services manager for the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, said according to a survey conducted by the chamber, there is still unoccupied lodging for the week of the eclipse.

There are about half a dozen hotels in Cody that still have rooms available, Constantine said.

Constantine said they are letting surrounding areas know there is availability in Park County in case they become overloaded with eclipse viewers. Knapp said it is important to monitor the weather as the eclipse approaches in case one of the 100 percent zones has no visibility due to overcast weather. This may cause astronomers to relocate suddenly.

If it s bad in Casper they might head for Riverton and Jackson, Knapp said. The Dispatch Center is also anticipating a high volume of calls from people who are caught off-guard by the event.

There are going to be some phone calls from people who are going to want to know what s going on or information on it, and chances are those calls are going to go into the sheriff s dispatch, Knapp said. It could be an issue We discussed having a recorded line [to answer questions].

Looking at sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse, when the moon blocks the sun entirely. The only safe way to look at the partially eclipsed sun is through special purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses. People who don t use the glasses could burn their eyes. Eye burns can be felt one to four hours after the event.

My understanding is that it is going to be like a welding burn, Knapp said. The Chamber will be selling solar eclipse glasses, with pairs ranging from $2 to $5. They will also have a booth at the Wild West Extravaganza during the Fourth of July week where the glasses will be available for purchase. In order to keep from having an eye injury during the eclipse there are several things to keep in mind:

Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions that come with the filter. Always supervise children using solar filters.

Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse classes before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter. Do not remove while looking at the sun.

Do not look at the partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device. Do not look through these same devices while wearing your eclipse glasses, the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye causing serious injury.

If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun s face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your eclipse glasses.

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