The United States will experience a solar eclipse on August 21. The eclipse will start at approximately 10:00 am Pacific Daylight Time/1:00 pm Eastern Daylight Time. Depending on where you are in the U.S., the eclipse will be either total or partial. The path of totality, where the sun is completely occluded, starts at Salem, Oregon and goes through Boise, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; Omaha, Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis, Nashville, Athens, Georgia to Charleston, South Carolina. The last time a total solar eclipse occurred within view of the lower 48 states was on February 26, 1979. As great as it is to witness an eclipse, looking directly into the sun, even for a moment, can lead to solar retinopathy, which is the burning and scaring the retina, as well as permanent vision loss.
Thankfully, there are ways to view an eclipse without harming your eyes. These include:
Special purpose solar filters that have the ISO12312-2 certification.
Eclipse glasses—many places such as public libraries and eyewear retailer Warby Parker are giving away free eclipse glasses that meet the ISO12312-2 certification.
To find a public library that is giving eclipse glasses, click here:
To find a Warby Parker that is giving away eclipse glasses, click here:
Eclipse glasses are also available for purchase at Amazon.com and eBay.
Pinhole projector—Directions on how to build one can be found here: https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/box-pinhole-projector.html
Of course, one DIY project not to do is to make your own eclipse glasses out of very dark sunglasses or tinted filters. They will not provide the level of protection that is necessary to view an eclipse safely.
When you are getting ready to view the eclipse, first examine the eclipse glasses. If it is damaged in anyway, get rid of it. If the eclipse glasses are in good condition, put them on before looking at the sun. If you wear eyeglasses, put on the eclipse glasses first, then put on your eyeglasses. When the eclipse is over, turn your head away from the sun and take the eclipse glasses off. Do not remove them while looking at the sun.
It is also important not to look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or other optical device, even while wearing the eclipse glasses. The concentrated rays will damage the glasses, enter your eyes and cause serious injury. If you are considering taking pictures or video of the event, seek advice from an astronomer or photography expert before doing anything. If you don’t use the appropriate filter IN FRONT of the camera lens, you risk injury or vision loss.
A solar eclipse is an amazing event. By taking the necessary precautions, you can enjoy this spectacle of nature. By the way, if you miss this solar eclipse, the next one is expected to take place in April 2024.