Reds will fade, greens will pop: What to wear during the April 8 total solar eclipse

It may sound strange, but the colors you wear April 8 during the rare total solar eclipse can affect your experience.

Warm colors, including reds and oranges, will become more gray-toned, while shades of green will become more vibrant.

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“Four-five minutes before the eclipse becomes total, we’re in the intermediate phase called the mesopic vision zone — where it’s not too bright, not too dark, but the surroundings look less colorful,” said Anna Jose, of the eclipse glasses retailer Solar Eyeglasses. “They rather turn grayish or silvery. The light levels in this zone fall enough that the cone cells [which help our eyes perceive color] receive less stimulation.

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“This leads to a decrease in the vibrancy or saturation of colors we see as they pick the gray overtone of the surroundings. This is especially noticeable with warm colors like red and orange,” Jones said.

As the sky gets darker, our eyes will adjust and switch from “cone” cells to “rod” cells, according to Jones. These rod cells are not designed to differentiate colors well, with the exception of blue-green hues. Which is why, during a total eclipse, reds will fade while greens will pop.

This entire concept is known as the “Purkinje Effect,” which can even be studied outside of eclipses. Jose uses the example of a flower, saying “In full sunlight, red flowers look bright against the green leaves. But as it gets darker, this flips: the reds turn dark red or almost black, while the green leaves and any blue flowers start to look brighter.”

Another example of the Purkinjie effect is “the dress.” Those on social media know of it: A photo of a striped dress made it look white and gold to some, and blue and black to others. An article from further discusses this potential:

“There has obviously not been a scientific study of the Purkinje shift and its relation to the question of the color of the dress. But the fact that the color changes for some people may be linked to differences in lighting and how dilated (or not) one’s pupil is at a given time, and therefore how much light is being let into the eye’s cones and rods, and the role the Purkinje effect plays in shifting perceptions.”

Before anyone goes to the eclipse wearing their brightest red and green Christmas sweater, Jose said for the effect to truly be seen, it has to be done with a crowd of people.

“Two or five in a group of 100 wouldn’t help,” she said.

Jose recommends getting a large crowd of people together to create an incredible optical phenomenon to compliment the already incredible solar event.

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