On Monday, August 21, 2017, the skies of North America will darken as a result of a total solar eclipse. Its startling onset and eerie appearance combine to create a unique visual impression. Read on to learn about the significance of the eclipse and tips on how to view it safely.
Why is this eclipse special?
This is the first total solar eclipse since 1979 that will be visible in the continental United States. But it’ll be the first time since 1918 that a solar eclipse stretches across the entire width of the United States. A total eclipse won’t occur again in the US until 2024.
Where can I view the eclipse?
Most people in North America will be able to view at least a partial solar eclipse, while those in some states will see a total solar eclipse. The path of totality will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. See the image below to see where your town lies along the path.
Is it safe to watch the eclipse without eye protection?
No. You would never normally stare at the sun, because it is extremely bright. But staring directly at the sun during an eclipse is extremely hazardous and can cause permanent damage.
Will sunglasses protect my eyes?
Regular sunglasses, smoked glass, and photographic neutral density filters cannot protect you from the hazards of staring at the sun during an eclipse.
Viewing the sun through lenses, such as ones utilized by unfiltered telescopes, cameras, and binoculars, are the worst method of viewing the sun, as they will capture even more of the damaging energy and focus it on your eyes.
Can I view the eclipse through the camera on my phone?
While it is fine to view an eclipse off an LCD screen, the potential danger comes with aiming the camera. If you try to hold your camera directly up to the sun, it can still damage your eyes if you accidentally glimpse it while aiming.
Taking selfie pictures or videos of the eclipse, you may be tempted to glance over your shoulder and look toward the Sun. Filming direct unfiltered sunlight may also damage some smartphone sensors. If you decide to film the eclipse through your phone, ensure that you protect your eyes with approved safety glasses.
Where can I get the protective devices for viewing the solar eclipse?
Disposable “eclipse glasses” are available for commercial purchase. Ensure that your eclipse glasses meet the international standard ISO 12312-2 on Filters for Direct Observation of the Sun.
The DIY method for safely viewing the eclipse.
- Take two pieces of paper or cardboard
- Using a pin, pencil point, or paperclip, pierce a smooth, round pinhole into one of the pieces of paper
- With your back to the eclipse, hold up the paper with the pinhole so that sunlight shines through it
- Hold up the second piece of paper/cardboard 3 to 4 feet away so sunlight will be projected onto it.
- An inverted image of the eclipse will appear on the second paper (do not view the sun directly through the pinhole