How To Protect Your Eyes During The Solar Eclipse

Thanks to our friends from the Space & Rocket Center for letting us share this article on eclipse safety!  They’ll be hosting their All American Eclipse event on August 21st.  If you’re not traveling to the path of totality, this may be the next best thing!

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When the All American Eclipse takes place Aug. 21, 2017, it’s very important to keep safety in mind. Joseph Vick, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s museum education manager, shares the best methods for protecting your eyes during this rare event:

Growing up, my mother would always tell me “Never look at the sun!” Mama’s advice is always best, but heliophysicists (scientists who study the sun) also offer the same good advice.

On Aug. 21, everyone in the continental United States will be able to see either a partial or total solar eclipse. The path of totality, the area where the sun is completely covered by the moon, will stretch from the west coast of Oregon to the east coast of South Carolina. The last time the United States saw a solar eclipse event of this magnitude was in 1918.

During a solar eclipse, the sky becomes dark and the stars will be visible. While ancient people found solar eclipses frightening, they are natural and a beautiful cosmic experiences like no other.

When viewing any object in the cosmos, it’s always important to use proper equipment. Viewing a solar eclipse is no different. Special solar eclipse glasses or viewers shade the harmful rays of the sun yet will allow you to see the beauty of the total solar eclipse. When you are looking for solar viewers, make sure they are coded ISO 12312-2:2015 or are CE certified, if they were manufactured outside the U.S. Industrial welders glass #14 or higher provides safe viewing material. Any lower number of glass will not provide protection.

In some areas, such as Huntsville, the sun will be only partially eclipsed, which means it is important to view the event only with solar eclipse protection. Removing your eclipse viewers while looking at the partially eclipsed sun can cause harmful eye injuries. Even in an area where the sun is totally eclipsed, it’s always best practice to keep the glasses on.

Many people will want to photograph the total eclipse, but be careful! A partially eclipsed sun can damage cell phone or camera equipment just like it can your eyes. Never aim your phone or camera at the sun and then look through it to take a picture. This will damage the camera and magnify the solar energy, damaging your eyes. If you want to take a picture of the eclipse, do so with professional filtered telescope equipment or with a casted shadow or pinhole viewer.

Wherever you are for this rare eclipse, the best thing to do is to simply enjoy the moment!

Resources:

Statement from the American Astronomical Society about purchasing safe glasses: https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters

NASA eclipse resources: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-kit

How to make a pinhole card viewer, an alternative to glasses: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12638

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