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A total solar eclipse occurs when the sun is completely obscured by the moon when it’s passing between the sun and earth. The eclipse next Monday will stretch across Nebraska from the panhandle to Rulo. This image of another total eclipse in March of 2016 may be similar to what we get to see. Phenomena like Bailey's Beads, Diamond Ring, Sun's Chromosphere and Corona, and Shadow Bands can all be observed during a total solar eclipse.

Between now and next week’s column, the biggest outdoor event will be the 2017 eclipse that will pass over us. Unless the Yellowstone caldera blows, the eclipse may be the biggest outdoor event of the year. Are you ready? August 21 is the date.

Two of the principal things you need to consider are, (1) do you have protection for your eyes and (2) where do you plan to view the eclipse.

As a kid, do you remember taking a magnifying glass and focusing it on a piece of paper or leaves and creating a fire? Well, you could create a similar effect in your eyes if you view the eclipse without proper protection.

Your eye has a lens that focuses the image of the sun onto a very small spot on the back of your retina. Viewing an eclipse like we are going to have can literally burn your eyes, causing permanent eye damage or blindness. You will feel no pain so you won't even know its happening!

If you are buying eclipse glasses you need to make sure they have the correct ISO number on them. That number is ISO 12312-2. Amazon just reported a problem with sell inferior eclipse glasses. Be careful what you buy.

You will need to wear your eclipse glasses during the initial phases of the event when the moon begins blocking out the sun and again as the moon moves off the sun and normal daylight returns. It is ONLY when the moon completely blocks the face of the sun, the period known as totality, can you look at the eclipse without your protective eyewear. Totality lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on where you are along the eclipse’s path.

There has been a lot of debate on whether taking a picture of the event could damage your cell phone’s camera. According to a statement issued by NASA this week, if you’re using an iPhone or Android smart phone camera, you should not need any additional camera filter. NASA experts say the lenses on your smart phones are generally very small and do not admit enough light on auto focus to do any additional damage to your phone. However, your pictures will very likely come out over exposed and washed out but your phone camera should not be harmed.

NASA says where you really need to be careful is while attempting to take your photos that you do not look at the full-on solar disk and damage your eyes. NASA went on to say that to be at your safest, you should wear approved solar eclipse viewing glasses any time you are trying to take a picture of the event.

Next, where do you intend to be to see the eclipse? Beatrice is in a good spot for this eclipse. You really don’t have to go anywhere to see it. But if you do, remember that you need to ask permission to be on private ground. I’ve heard estimates that Beatrice may see an influx of up to 80,000 extra people running around trying to look at the eclipse. Yep, I’d stay home, too.

Ruger Recall

Ruger is recalling all Mark IV pistols manufactured prior to June 1, 2017. The company recently discovered that the pistols have the potential to discharge unintentionally if the safety is not utilized correctly. In particular, if the trigger is pulled while the safety lever is midway between the "safe" and "fire" positions (that is, the safety is not fully engaged or fully disengaged), the pistol may not fire when the trigger is pulled. However, if the trigger is released and the safety lever is then moved from the mid position to the "fire" position, the pistol may fire at that time.

Ruger wants to make its customers aware of a free safety upgrade. All Mark IV pistols with serial numbers beginning with "401" (2017 models) or "WBR" (2016 models) are subject to the recall. Mark IV owners should visit the Mark IV Recall website at to look up the serial number of their Mark IV and verify if it is subject to the recall, sign up for the recall, and obtain additional information.

New parts are being built and Ruger will retrofit Mark IV pistols on a first-come, first-served basis. When Ruger is ready to retrofit a consumer's pistol, a prepaid USPS box with a shipping label and detailed packaging and shipping instructions will be sent to the consumer. The consumer should return only the grip frame assembly to Ruger. Ruger will install the updated safety mechanism, and return the grip frame assembly, free of charge. All retrofitted grip frame assemblies will be returned with a free magazine as a "thank you" for consumers' patience and cooperation. Ruger will make every effort to return each pistol within one week of the day it arrives at Ruger.

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