The solar eclipse is taking place today, Monday August 21. But are you ready to watch the eclipse safely, without damaging your eyes? Here are the top safety tips for watching today’s solar eclipse.
The total solar eclipse can be seen Monday, August 21 at 9:06 a.m. PDT in Madras, Oregon, 10:15 a.m. MDT in Idaho Falls, 11:37 a.m. CDT in Lincoln, Nebraska, 11:46 a.m. CDT in Jefferson City, Missouri, 11:58 a.m. CDT in Nashville, and 1:13 p.m. EDT in Columbia, South Carolina, just to name a few of the cities it will be passing over.
Only Use Special-Purpose Solar Filters to View the Eclipse
Don’t use regular sunglasses to watch the solar eclipse or view the eclipse without any eye protection at all. Watching a partial eclipse or uneclipsed sun without special solar filters could damage your vision or even cause blindness. Even very dark sunglasses are simply not enough to protect your eyes.
Instead, use special-purpose solar filters, such as handheld solar viewers or specially made eclipse glasses, NASA suggests. These should be verified as compliant with ISO 12312-2 international safety standards. The American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable vendors here. It’s best to make sure you’re using glasses manufactured by a reputable vendor, with the manufacturer’s name and address printed on the glasses, rather than just looking for the ISO number on the glasses, WLTX19 reported. This is because some fakes have printed the number on the glasses even if they aren’t compliant. WLTX19 also recommends looking through the glasses first. You shouldn’t be able to see things around you, like the ground or your hand in front of your face, if the glasses are real.
Before viewing the eclipse, inspect your glasses to make sure they’re not scratched or damaged. Don’t use them if they are. Follow the instructions on the glasses. Before you look up at the sun, you should already be wearing your solar glasses. Don’t take them off until you’ve turned away from the sun.
Don’t Look Through a Camera While Wearing Your Solar Eclipse Glasses
Cameras, telescopes, binoculars, and other similar devices also don’t provide protection from the sun’s harmful rays. NASA specifically says not to look through these devices at the sun while wearing your solar glasses.
Do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
Before using any kind of solar filter on a camera or telescope or other optical advice, get input from an expert. The solar filters must be attached to the front of the device, according to NASA.
You Can Also Create a Pinhole Projector
If you don’t have solar glasses, you can create a pinhole projector. These projectors let the sunlight stream through a small hole, like a pencil hole in a piece of paper, onto a screen that’s on the ground. However, you can only look at the screen, not the sun directly.
NASA provides 2D/3D printable pinhole projectors here that you can download and print.
You can also watch the eclipse on a live stream to get a great view, if you’re not in the path of totality.
NASA’s Video on Eclipse Safety
NASA has provided a video below on how to safely watch the eclipse. This explains the phases of the solar eclipse, including the partial eclipse (which can last over an hour), the diamond ring (the last few seconds before totality), Baily’s Beads, Totality (just a few minutes long), and the final stages when the crescent begins to peak out again from behind the moon.
If you’re in the path of totality, which only lasts for about two minutes, NASA says you can briefly take off your glasses during totality. But don’t leave them off, because when the sun is no longer completely covered — within just a couple minutes — the sun’s glare is dangerous again and can cause damage. If you’re outside the path of totality, you must always wear the solar glasses. See the video below for more details.