You've planned your road trip, downloaded your science apps, and you're all ready to watch the solar eclipse. Now, here's how to watch it safely.
Mark your calendars people! August 21 will mark the first total solar eclipse since 1979. It won’t be hard for you to miss it, but you’re going to want to make sure that you’re fully prepared for the viewing, so you won’t miss a thing! Watching the eclipse with the naked eye or a pair of shades is a total no go, since that is not the proper eye protection when looking directly at the sun. You could seriously hurt your eyes or even worse go blind. So if you plan on checking out the eclipse here are the ways in which you can do so in a safe manner.
Purchase a pair of 3D Eclipse Glasses
Demand is high for eclipse glasses, and counterfeit glasses have been popping up everywhere so make sure that you are buying a pair of the viewing glasses that are equipped with special solar filters. A safe solar filter will produce a view of the sun that is about as bright as the full moon surrounded by a dark sky as well as block out more than 99 percent of the sun’s light which would be rather harmful, according to the American Astronomical Society (AAS).
The glasses are being sold by retailers like Best Buy, Circle K, 7-Eleven, Lowes, Toys “R” Us, and Walmart to name a few for just $1! Here’s a full list provided by the AAS of all retailers who will be selling the glasses that are actually from verified vendors. Make sure to first call ahead to check if they still have them in stock, so you don’t end up making a trip all for nothing.
Buy solar filters for your binoculars and telescope
If you think looking at the sun with just your eyes is a bad idea, looking at the sun with your binoculars or a telescope without any protection is worse. Gazing at the solar face through these instruments are far more dangerous because they concentrate the sun’s powerful light. So just make sure that if you are planning on using either one of these, you buy a solar filter that is designed to go on the front of them. Here’s a list of companies that Sky & Telescope compiled that make safe solar filters for your viewing pleasure.
Make a pinhole camera
If you’re super crafty another great way to watch the eclipse is to make your own pinhole camera. Communications manager at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, Leslie Pepple states, “It's absolutely a safe way to view the eclipse," however "you can not use it to actually look directly at the eclipse". To make the viewer all you need is two pieces of paper, something hefty like cardstock, some tape, tinfoil, and a thumbtack.
With your DIY viewer, you will be able to project a view of the eclipse on the ground or any other surface. Here's a link that gives you step-by-step directions on making your own pinhole camera with just paper, and here's another one for using a cardboard box if you prefer something a bit more sturdier.
Now you have all the tips needed to enjoy the solar eclipse next week!
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, Mario Anzuoni