So the solar eclipse is a thing guys. And you need to know how to watch the solar eclipse safely so you can you know…not go blind. Since I needed this information myself, I figured other people would want it as well. So here you go!
What You Need to Know to Watch the Solar Eclipse Safely
What is the solar eclipse and why do I need to care?
For the first time in 99 years, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun on Monday, August 21, 2017. Anyone within the path of totality can see what NASA is calling “one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights” – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.
What will I be able to see?
If you are in the path of totality, then you get to see the whole shabang. Even if you aren’t though, you will probably be able to see a good portion of it. Or you could just watch it on NASA.gov and see it all with running commentary. Check NASA’s interactive map to know what you’ll be able to see in your neighborhood.
Why do I need those silly glasses?
l hate buying into the hype, but apparently the hype is real. To watch the solar eclipse safely, you need those darn glasses. If you look into the sun, you will basically sunburn your eyes immediately. The ultraviolet light is just too much for our eyes. To be specific, your cornea will blister and crack just like when your shoulders get sunburned. Though like on your skin, the you won’t see the damage until hours later. Stare at the sun for a longer moment and you can damage your retina and surrounding tissues. Keep staring for the whole eclipse and you could go blind. It’s not just something you tell your kids to keep them scared. It’s a real thing. Want to know more? Read this Gizmodo article.
Why would I look directly at the sun? I see it everyday, don’t I?
Well, yes. And no. During a solar eclipse the light is less bright (sort of like when a cloud covers the sun) so our regular tendency to avoid looking at the sun may go away. Also, you don’t know you’re burning your eyes while you’re burning your eyes. If you burn your hand, it hurts immediately and you stop doing it. When you look at the sun, there are no nerve endings in your eyes to tell you to look away. Plus, it’s kind of a thing to look up during an eclipse.
Ok. Ok. How do I get those glasses now?
Well, you’ve got some work to do. To watch the solar eclipse safely, you do need those glasses. However, those glasses are sold out many places. Start with google and match that with a plea to your friends on Facebook to see what you can come up with. Just be sure they are ISO-certified. And no, regular sunglasses are not good enough. Check out this page to find out which glasses are safe. Check out libraries on this map to find out which ones are handing out free pairs. Friends have found them at Kroger, 7-11, Circle K, Wal-Mart and a variety of local hardware, convenience, and grocery stores. Check out this great graphic from USA Today on where to find solar eclipse glasses near you.
So I can’t look up at all?
Here’s the thing, IF you are in the path of totality and IF it is during the 2-3 minutes when the sun is fully blocked by the moon, then you can look up. But don’t mess with your eyes and take a chance. Here’s a handy chart:
Can’t I make a viewer to watch the solar eclipse safely?
If you are artsy-craftsy and want to do a project then go ahead! You can make a pinhole camera. It can be as simple or as intricate as you want to make it. It works well for safety reasons because it means your back is to the sun and you see the image of the sun in your viewer (instead of looking at the sun directly which we already went over why we shouldn’t do that). My good friend Meghan over at Jamonkey.com has some easy templates for a pinhole viewer.
How are you going to watch the solar eclipse safely?