Food Safety

Could the 2024 Solar Eclipse Poison Food? NASA Debunks the Myth.

Could the 2024 solar eclipse poison food? NASA debunks the myth.

As the April 8th 2024 Solar Eclipse draws nearer, a lot of myths have been circulating around. From potential harm to a fetus if a pregnant person watches the eclipse, to an eclipse taking place around your birthday is a sign of “impending bad health.” Both, by the way are untrue, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and have no science to back up the theory.

For centuries people have attributed the sun’s disappearance with both good and bad omens. As with most mythologies, people find stories to explain what is going on around them. Whether it was some type of animal that ate the sun, or angry gods stealing it away, quite a bit of lore surrounds this celestial event.

But one topic hits close to home for MakeFoodSafe.com

Do solar eclipses poison food?

But first. What exactly is a solar eclipse?

What is a Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse is a special celestial occurrence that is the conflagration of many variables that momentarily blocks out light from the sun.

It involves a New Moon, which is a phase in the lunar cycle where the sun and moon are aligned, making the moon seem to disappear in the night sky.

A solar eclipse happens when that “new moon” moves between the sun and the earth. At this perfect alignment, the moon blocks the sun’s rays and casts a shadow on parts of the earth.

A solar eclipse happens when the moon is positioned between the sun and the earth, casting a shadow over the earth.

The moon is not big enough to cast a shadow over the entire planet, so only certain areas will see a total eclipse. You may have heard the term “path of totality” in the news and on social media. This 2024 solar eclipse has gotten a lot of attention.

This “path of totality” is the area where the sun is completely blotted out for a short period of time. As the earth spins, the shadow moves. This is why areas experience the total eclipse at different times along the path.

Some areas may only experience a partial blocking of the sun. This is called a partial eclipse. And while not as dramatic as a total eclipse, it is still rather exciting for people in those areas. Crescent shadows can be seen flickering all around during this time.

You have also likely heard that you should protect your eyes. This is not because the sun produces more harmful rays, but because it is tempting to look directly at the sun to see the spectacle. Looking directly at the sun, whether in shadow or directly, can be very damaging to the eyes.

It is possibly this myth that leads people to believe that food exposed during the eclipse can be poisoned by the harmful UV rays of the sun.

Could the 2024 Solar Eclipse Poison Food?

According to NASA, food exposed to a solar eclipse will not poison food. This is because the same UV rays that are already aimed at the planet are the same ones that pass around the shadow during an eclipse. There is no risk to food.

There is no risk to food during a solar eclipse.

Perhaps this myth has circulated due to certain cultural observations during these unique events. Even today, may parts of India still practice fasting during a solar eclipse under the belief that any food cooked while an eclipse happens will be poisonous and unpure.

This is a common thread among other cultures who also fast during the eclipse.

While cultural observations are made for many different reasons and rooted in different histories, the belief, superstition, or however you want to attribute the mass following of a practice is usually done out of community and tradition more than any other real threat to safety.

2024 Eclipse Viewing Safety Tips

If you have the opportunity to view the total or partial eclipse, you will want to take it. For many places, it can be as many as 20 years between one total solar eclipse and the next.

You will, however, want to do so safely.

Never Look Directly at the Sun

You should never look directly at the sun. Looking directly at the sun can cause serious or even permanent damage to your eyes.

Looking directly at the sun can cause serious or even permanent damage to your eyes.

You could even go blind. No myth about that one.

Always use proper eye protection when observing the eclipse. Even if you have super fancy polarized sunglasses, those will not provide enough protection.

Specially designed eclipse glasses or special solar filters are the only safe option to look at the sun. A projection device can also be used to view the eclipse indirectly.

Wear Eclipse Glasses

Certain manufacturers have developed lenses called “eclipse glasses” that are safe. These lenses have filters designed to block out harmful rays.

Alternatively, NASA recommends welder’s glasses rated 14 or higher. Though these may be bulky for your observation activities.

View Through Projection

You can use a telescope projection device and project the sun’s image onto a screen. But do not look through the telescope’s eye piece or side-mounted finder scope (if equipped) as this is the same as looking directly at it.

Don’t have a fancy telescope?

No problem!

You can still view the eclipse through a homemade projector.

You can make a projector box by creating a pinhole on one side and a viewing hole below. When you point the pinhole toward the sun, the shadow can be seen on the other side of the box. Just look through the bottom of the box and watch the shadow slowly pass over the bright light.

Want a simpler setup?

Create a pin hole in a piece of sturdy paper (a paper plate works great). With your back to the sun, hold the paper plate over a smooth surface (like a plain piece of printer paper). You will be able to see the shadow pass over the sun.

What Are Your Plans for the Solar Eclipse?

Are you fortunate enough to live or be able to visit an area of totality? Will you have a partial eclipse in your area?

Regardless of your 2024 solar eclipse plans, you can be assured that any food exposed to this event will not be poisoned. At least, by the sun.

Stay in Touch with Make Food Safe!

If you’d like to know more about food safety topics in the news, like “Could the 2024 Solar Eclipse Poison Food? NASA Debunks the Myth.”, check out the Make Food Safe Blog. We regularly update trending topics, foodborne infections in the news, recalls, and more! Stay tuned for quality information to help keep your family safe, while The Lange Law Firm, PLLC strives to Make Food Safe!

By: Heather Van Tassell (contributing writer, non-lawyer)

Heather Van Tassell

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