Learn how to watch the solar eclipse without burning your eyes out

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(Source: Mesa Now) (Source: Mesa Now)
Total Solar Eclipse (Source: Mesa Now) Total Solar Eclipse (Source: Mesa Now)
Dr. Sky® (Source: Mesa Now) Dr. Sky® (Source: Mesa Now)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Great American Eclipse is getting closer, but researchers say specific cautions must be taken to fully enjoy the event.

Steve Kates, also known as Dr. Sky®, will host a solar eclipse safety program on Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 3 p.m. at Red Mountain Library, 635 N. Power Road

[RELATED: Where to see the 2017 total solar eclipse]

[SPECIAL SECTION: Total Solar Eclipse 2017]

Dr. Sky has studied the science of astronomy for more than 30 years and has appeared on numerous local and national radio and television programs.

The free 90-minute program will cover safe ways to observe and enjoy the total solar eclipse. 

No registration is required and all ages are welcome to attend.

[RELATED: Tips for photographing the solar eclipse]

The total solar eclipse is set for Aug. 21 and will be seen across North America. 

Most of the continent will see a partial eclipse while Arizona will see 70 percent of it.

Even a partial eclipse can be dangerous and requires safety precautions to avoid retinal burns.

"Exposure of the retina to intense visible light causes damage to its light-sensitive rod and cone cells," NASA explains on a webpage about eye safety during the solar eclipse. "The light triggers a series of complex chemical reactions within the cells which damages their ability to respond to a visual stimulus, and in extreme cases, can destroy them. The result is a loss of visual function which may be either temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of the damage. 

"The danger to vision is significant because photic retinal injuries occur without any feeling of pain (there are no pain receptors in the retina), and the visual effects do not occur for at least several hours after the damage is done [Pitts, 1993]."

Translation: You could damage your eyes and impair your vision -- permanently.

There is only one time when it's safe to look directly at the sun -- the totality of the eclipse. We won't get that here.

"It is never safe to look at a partial or annular eclipse, or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse, without the proper equipment and techniques," according to NASA. "Even when 99% of the Sun's surface (the photosphere) is obscured during the partial phases of a solar eclipse, the remaining crescent Sun is still intense enough to cause a retinal burn, even though illumination levels are comparable to twilight [Chou, 1981, 1996; Marsh, 1982]."

For us here in Arizona, the means do not -- under any circumstances -- look directly at the solar eclipse.

[RELATED: What will the solar eclipse look like to Arizonans?]

This will be the first total solar eclipse in the United States since 1979.

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