Don't Look at the Sun! Solar Eclipse Safety Tips
In the absence of cloud cover, a total solar eclipse will be visible on Monday, August 21 in a 70-mile wide band across the entire continental United States, from central Oregon through South Carolina. In a total solar eclipse, the moon moves in between the earth and the sun, completely blocking out the sun for a short period of time. Prior to the total eclipse, which will last about two minutes, and in other areas of the country, and other parts of North and Central America, a partial solar eclipse will be visible.
Ahead of this amazing event, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning that viewing a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection – even very briefly – can cause permanent vision loss and blindness. Looking directly at the sun can damage the retinas, light-sensitive parts of the eye that transmit what we see to our brain. Retinal damage can occur without pain and, according to the CDC, it can take a few hours, or even days, for symptoms – like an inability to see colors or loss of central vision – to develop. Anyone who experiences vision changes after viewing the solar eclipse next week should contact an eye care professional immediately.
The only way to look directly at the sun safely when it’s not eclipsed or is partly eclipsed is with a special solar filter or a handheld solar viewer. Goggles, homemade filters, and dark sunglasses do not offer enough protection. Avoid looking at the sun through an unfiltered camera – including a smartphone – telescope, binoculars, or any other device. You can also make your own simple and inexpensive pinhole projector to safely view the eclipse, but be sure to follow instructions for making and using the projector carefully.