4 Ways to Protect Your Vision and Safely Watch the Total Solar Eclipse

solar eclipse

Anticipation is building for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017. It’s the first time since 1918 that Americans can observe the eclipse as it spreads in a path across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. If you plan to witness the eclipse, remember that the sun is extremely bright and emits powerful rays that can damage your eyes. Here are four ways to protect your vision and safely watch the eclipse:

  1. Wear eye protection – NASA recommends wearing green shade 14 solar eclipse glasses to view the eclipse. Another option is to use handheld viewers with solar filters approved for the eclipse. Never use viewers or glasses with scratches or holes in the filter or lens. Watch this video to learn more.

    • How eye injury occurs – The retina manages light entering your eye through a layer of photoreceptor cells. These cells detect light intensity and color. The retina cannot sense pain, so if you look directly at the sun and overstimulate the cells, you can develop solar retinopathy without knowing it. Symptoms of the condition are distorted vision, problems detecting colors, and temporary or permanent blindness.

  2. Make a projector – Watch the eclipse through a DIY personal projector. Here are two ideas:

    • Pinhole camera – This is a simple project that requires only white cardstock paper, aluminum foil, a paperclip and tape. Follow these directions from NASA.

    • Tripod viewer – Use binoculars or a telescope, a tripod, duct tape, white cardstock and cardboard to create a projector that produces large, sharp images of the eclipse. Review these steps to complete the project. Don’t look through the telescope or binoculars while using eclipse glasses or handheld viewers. The intensity of the sun could damage the filters and injure your eyes.

  3. Take pictures – With the right cameras and filters, you can safely take pictures of the eclipse and document reflections on trees and buildings. Consider two camera options:

    • Smartphone – Many cell phones take excellent pictures. However, review these tips to safely take photos of the eclipse.

    • Digital single – lens reflex camera – Make sure it is equipped with an eclipse filter. Otherwise, you could damage the lens. Attach the camera to a tripod and look at shots only through the preview screen. Read this article to learn more.

  4. Host a party – Get together with friends, coworkers or family members to watch NASA’s live webcast of the eclipse as it travels across the United States.

    • Surf the web for fun ideas on solar eclipse-themed food, beverages, activities and T-shirts to commemorate the event.

    • Share real-time reactions on NASA’s social media sites, and interact with people all over the country.

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