How to Safely Watch the Aug. 21 Solar Eclipse
Since it’s never safe to look at the partially eclipsed or uneclipsed Sun, everyone who plans to watch the eclipse needs a plan to watch it safely. One of the easiest ways to watch an eclipse is solar viewing glasses – but there are a few things to check to make sure your glasses are safe:
- Glasses should have an ISO 12312-2 certification
- They should also have the manufacturer’s name and address, and you can check if the manufacturer has been verified by the American Astronomical Society
- Make sure they have no scratches or damage
To use solar viewing glasses, make sure you put them on before looking up at the Sun, and look away before you remove them. Proper solar viewing glasses are extremely dark, and the landscape around you will be totally black when you put them on – all you should see is the Sun (and maybe some types of extremely bright lights if you have them nearby).
Never use solar viewing glasses while looking through a telescope, binoculars, camera viewfinder, or any other optical device. The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eyes, causing serious injury. But you can use solar viewing glasses on top of your regular eyeglasses, if you use them!
If you don’t have solar viewing glasses, there are still ways to watch, like making your own pinhole projector. You can make a handheld box projector with just a few simple supplies – or simply hold any object with a small hole (like a piece of cardstock with a pinhole, or even a colander) above a piece of paper on the ground to project tiny images of the Sun.
Of course, you can also watch the entire eclipse online with us. Tune into nasa.gov/eclipselive starting at noon ET on Aug. 21!
For people in the path of totality, there will be a few brief moments when it is safe to look directly at the eclipse. Only once the Moon has completely covered the Sun and there is no light shining through is it safe to look at the eclipse. Make sure you put your eclipse glasses back on or return to indirect viewing before the first flash of sunlight appears around the Moon’s edge.
You can look up the length of the total eclipse in your area to help you set a time for the appropriate length of time. Remember – this only applies to people within the path of totality.
Everyone else will need to use eclipse glasses or indirect viewing throughout the entire eclipse!
Photographing the Eclipse
Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a selfie master, try out these tips for photographing the eclipse.
#1 — Safety first: Make sure you have the required solar filter to protect your camera.
#2 — Any camera is a good camera, whether it’s a high-end DSLR or a camera phone – a good eye and vision for the image you want to create is most important.
#3 — Look up, down, and all around. As the Moon slips in front of the Sun, the landscape will be bathed in long shadows, creating eerie lighting across the landscape. Light filtering through the overlapping leaves of trees, which creates natural pinholes, will also project mini eclipse replicas on the ground. Everywhere you can point your camera can yield exceptional imagery, so be sure to compose some wide-angle photos that can capture your eclipse experience.
#4 — Practice: Be sure you know the capabilities of your camera before Eclipse Day. Most cameras, and even many camera phones, have adjustable exposures, which can help you darken or lighten your image during the tricky eclipse lighting. Make sure you know how to manually focus the camera for crisp shots.
#5 —Upload your eclipse images to NASA’s Eclipse Flickr Gallery and relive the eclipse through other peoples’ images.
Learn all about the Aug. 21 eclipse at eclipse2017.nasa.gov, and follow @NASASun on Twitter and NASA Sun Science on Facebook for more. Watch the eclipse through the eyes of NASA at nasa.gov/eclipselive starting at 12 PM ET on Aug. 21.
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