4 Tips to Safely View and Enjoy Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

Manhattan sunset, from a Delta 767-300 landing at JFK

By Paul Riegler on 21 August 2017
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The first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in just under a century arrives late Monday in the United States and people in many parts of the world are preparing to view it. The last total eclipse was in February 1979, well before the advent of the Internet, so be prepared for an onslaught of images and eclipse-related information before and after the moon blots out the sun.

Here are four tips to help you safely enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime event.

1.) Don’t look at the eclipse with the naked eye.
Whatever you do, do not look directly at the sun before and after the eclipse. You can view the eclipse safely with a pinhole camera (something easily made from an empty cereal box) or with eclipse glasses. It will also be viewable online, probably on thousands of websites as well as via social media channels. Unless you are using a special filter, don’t attempt to take photographs either.

The eclipse will begin in Oregon at approximately 1:15 p.m. local time and will move east, hitting South Carolina around 2:49 p.m. EDT. Hundreds of eclipse-related celebrations are taking place along the so-called path of totality, where the sun will appear to be completely covered by the moon with only a thin corona of light visible on earth.

2.) Use a filter or special eclipse glasses.
Use a solar filter or eclipse glasses (but not regular sunglasses) to cover your smartphone lens during early parts of the solar eclipse. Attaching your smartphone to a telescope will provide optimal results but consider a tripod to reduce movement and vibration due to the long exposure required.

3.) Remove glasses once totality starts.
Once totality starts, it’s safe to remove your eclipse glasses and view the Sun’s edge and corona without any filters, even with a telescope or pair of binoculars. But be careful as, the moment totality ends, looking at the sun is likely to result in permanent blindness.

4.) Enjoy the show.
Totality will bring with it a significant change for the two minutes and 40 seconds it takes place. The absence of sunlight will cause the temperature to plummet; nocturnal animals may see this as a signal of nightfall and emerge; street lamps may come on; and an eerie silence may drown out the hustle and bustle of the world. From the Sun’s active corona to the stars and planets, enjoy it while it lasts.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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