The solar eclipse is quickly approaching and on Monday, August 21, the whole continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting two to three hours. Anyone within the path of totality, when the moon completely blocks the sun, will experience a total eclipse. Since the eclipse will be seen across North America, it’s important to know how to safely view this astonishing sight.
The only safe way to look at the sun is during the total phase of a solar eclipse – this is called totality. Otherwise, looking directly at the sun is never safe without proper eyewear. Eclipse viewers can look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses, solar viewers, or pinhole projectors. Make sure to always inspect any solar filters before use. If solar filters are scratched or damaged, make sure to throw them away. Eclipse viewers are warned not to use homemade filters or regular dark sunglasses to look at the sun as it can harm the eyes. NASA recommends purchasing eclipse glasses and solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard.
Solar filters are also a must when it comes to cameras because, without filters, the light intensity could destroy the camera. This holds true for telescopes, binoculars, and other optical devices – the solar rays can damage the filter and cause serious injury to the eyes. However, just as viewers can look at the eclipse during the period of totality without solar filters, cameras can also capture the amazing moment without damage.
Solar eclipses are one of nature’s grandest phenomena, just remember to view it safely, solar filters are a must! For more information on eclipse viewing safety, visit eclipse2017.nasa.gov or eclipse.aas.org.