Normally staring directly into the sun is a very bad idea. With Fort Jackson being in the path of totality for the eclipse Monday, you may be tempted to do just that. Don't.

According to NASA's Eclipse website, "The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as 'eclipse glasses.' Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight. Manufacturers and authorized dealers
of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers are verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products."

Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation purchased 2,760 pairs and are giving them away free with any purchase of $5 or more at selected Family and MWR locations. "One pair per $5 increment, limit 2 pair per $10 or more sales transaction. Additional pairs are available for direct purchase at $2 per pair while supplies last and they are expected to sell out quickly," said John Keegan, manager, FMWR Marketing Division.

The Thomas Lee Hall (Post) Library is hosting an eclipse viewing event day of the eclipse. The event will begin with a story time at noon. Registered patrons will then make a pin-hole viewer craft, paper eclipse model and receive a snack and a soda. Registered patrons are also guaranteed to receive eclipse glasses (one pair per person).

Registration is limited to a maximum of 30 children. Please call the Library at 751- 5589 to register.

"Patrons that do not register, are still more than welcome to attend story time. We will be handing out eclipse glasses on a first come, first served basis," said Julie Miller, librarian.

The Library has a total of 600 pairs of eclipse glasses. Two hundred will be distributed at the Library Saturday, when patrons make a check out (limited to two pairs per person). The rest will be handed out the day of the eclipse.

The total solar eclipse will take place at 2:41 p.m. Monday. Expect to experience the longest 100 percent total eclipse on the east coast ranging from 2 minutes and 30 seconds up to 2 minutes and 36 seconds of total darkness in the middle of the afternoon, according to totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.

This eclipse is first transcontinental total eclipse in the past 99 years. The Columbia area will not have another observable eclipse until 2078. A total eclipse happens when the sun, moon and earth line up perfectly.

It is recommended that those viewing be quiet during the eclipse for the enjoyment of all and to notice natural phenomena that occurs in conjunction with an eclipse such as temperature drops of 5-15 degrees, nocturnal animals emerge and begin their nightly routines, birds go to roost for the
"night," and stars and bright planets (Mars, Venus, Mercury and Jupiter) will be visible.

Once the eclipse is complete, daylight will return and birds will begin to chirp and participate in their morning routines.