The Solar Eclipse & How To View It Safely

Millions of people are expected to witness a total solar eclipse crossing the United States from coast to coast on August 21, 2017. Follow these tips to help you prepare for this rare celestial event and avoid any damage to your eyes.

Use Certified Eclipse Viewing Glasses

A solar eclipse can cause permanent blindness if proper safety precautions are not followed. The sun's light is so intense that it can burn your retinas and kill the photoreceptors in your eyes, even when only part of the sun is visible during an eclipse. Viewers must use ISO-approved solar eclipse viewing glasses which safely block almost all the sun's light.

Make a Pinhole Projector

If you're not able to find any eclipse viewing glasses, you can also use a pinhole projector made with common household objects. A pinhole projector essentially creates a dimmer (and thus safer) image of the eclipse that you can watch without fear of damage to your eyes.

  • Click here to learn how to make a pinhole projector with two cards
  • Click here to learn how to make a pinhole projector with a cardboard box
  • Click here to learn how to make a custom pinhole projector in the shape of the US or your state

NEVER Look Directly At The Sun With Sunglasses!

Sunglasses are not capable of blocking the intense rays, even with multiple pairs of sunglasses on, no matter how dark the lenses are. Proper solar eclipse glasses have special filters that are hundreds of thousands of times darker than sunglass lenses.

Telescopes, Binoculars, & Cameras Require Specialized Filters

You won't need a telescope or binoculars to witness the eclipse, but if you want a closer view of the event, your equipment will need the proper solar filter. Even certified solar eclipse glasses are not dark enough to block the magnified sunlight when viewed through a telescope or binoculars. 

How To Use Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses

  • Carefully read and follow any instructions that come with your eclipse viewing glasses.
  • Check the lenses for any damage, ensuring there are no scratches or tears in the protective film.
  • Make sure the glasses fit properly and won't slide off your face when worn.
  • Children should always be carefully instructed and supervised.
  • Cover your eyes with the eclipse viewing glasses BEFORE looking up at the sun. DO NOT remove the glasses until after you have moved your gaze back down and away from the sun.
  • Keep the viewing glasses on until the moon has COMPLETELY covered the sun. It is safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye ONLY during totality when the moon completely obstructs the sun. Totality will usually last only a minute or two.

What To Expect

During the first few seconds before and after totality, the edge of the sun will create beads of light known as "Baily's Beads" just before the sun is covered in totality. As the moon continues to cover the sun, the beads will diminish until only one remains, creating a "diamond ring" effect that is fascinating to see. These beads of light are caused from the sun's rays passing through valleys on the moon's surface. Once the Baily's Beads and the diamond ring effect have passed, it is safe to remove your eclipse viewing glasses to see the eclipse with the naked eye, but only until the diamond ring and Baily's Beads begin to appear again.

The last time a total solar eclipse crossed the entire United States was in 1918, and the next total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. won't be until 2024. We hope you'll have the opportunity to participate in this extraordinary event!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.