Protecting Your Vision During the Great American Eclipse

Great American Solar Eclipse Safety Viewing Tips

Tips on How to Protect Your Vision During the Great American Eclipse

On Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, folks in North America will have a chance to see the Great American Eclipse. The whole continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through the event, anyone within a roughly 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse. At that point, the moon will completely cover the face of the sun for up to 2 minutes 40 seconds.

Parts of 11 states will experience a total solar eclipse. If you get to see it, make sure to take care of your vision during the solar eclipse. Looking directly at the sun during most parts of a solar eclipse can permanently damage your vision or blind you. Keep in mind that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun. Solar filters used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers must meet a very specific worldwide standards. If you’re going to attempt to look at the eclipse, check out the American Astronomical Society website for information about where to get the proper eye wear or handheld viewers.

The following are tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology on how to safely watch a solar eclipse:

  • Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.
  • Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
  • Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter—do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.
  • Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.
  • Talk with an expert astronomer if you want to use a special solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

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