spaceSpace and Physics

How To Watch The Eclipse Safely


Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockJul 31 2017, 16:25 UTC

Total Solar Eclipse in Svalbard on March 20, 2015. THANAKRIT SANTIKUNAPORN/Shutterstock

We are only a few weeks away from the Great American Eclipse, and while the path of totality is just over 100 kilometers (70 miles) across, everyone based in the contiguous United States should be able to see at least a partial eclipse. However, don’t screw your eyesight to see this spectacle. Safety first.

The light we get from the Sun will diminish as our star is partially blocked by the Moon but the brightness of its surface will remain the same. So, even if you’re looking at a 99 percent totality, it will still hurt your retina.


There are a few easy ways to make solar scopes to observe the eclipse indirectly but the best option is to have solar glasses. You can buy simple or fancy ones online, and you can even get them for free from local libraries, but make sure they have the ISO 12312-2 stamp, the lenses are not scratched, and they have the contact details of the manufacturer on them.

Dark sunglasses, even if they are really dark, are not good enough. And please don’t try and make a quick and cheap solar filter at home. Same advice goes for cameras, binoculars, and telescopes: Don’t use them without filters. You will hear these warnings repeated over and over, but people can seriously harm themselves during eclipses.

If you’re fortunate enough to be in the path of totality, you can remove your glasses when the Moon completely covers the Sun. It will be suddenly very dark and will last for a few minutes depending on your location. Obviously put the goggles back on once the Sun starts peering out again from behind our satellite.


It really will be a spectacular sight, but not worth damaging your eyesight over, so safety first, kids. 


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