SOLAR ECLIPSE / ECLIPSE OF THE SUN: TIPS FOR SAFE VIEWING


NEVER look at the Sun or a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun with the unaided eye. This could cause MAJOR EYE DAMAGE AND POSSIBLE BLINDNESS!


Unless it is professional astronomical equipment set-up specifically for observing the Sun with a trained Astronomer managing the equipment, NEVER, NEVER look through any camera (including cell-phone or smart-phone cameras), telescope, binoculars, or any optical aid or device that magnifies an image (or reflection of a magnified image), at the Sun, Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun, or a Solar Transit of a Planet (Mercury or Venus) across the surface of the Sun. This would cause PERMANANT BLINDNESS INSTANTLY !!!


Blindness can occur rapidly, without any pain, since there are no pain receptors or other nerve cells in the retina of the eyes. When even a small section of the Sun is visible, a large amount of invisible Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation is still being transmitted from the Sun, which can greatly damage eye-sight in a very short period of time.

Do NOT Use the Following Methods to Look at a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun
The Following Methods Are UNSAFE !

1) Sunglasses (or even combination of several sunglasses);
2) Welder's Glass below rating Number 14 (or even combination of several Welder's Glass below rating Number 14);
3) Mylar covering from a Mylar balloon or food wrappers (Mylar covering of Mylar balloons or food wrappers are not optical-grade);
4) Filtering devices, including liquid filters (e.g. coffee, tea) (UNLESS, SPECIFICALLY designed for solar observing);
5) NEVER look through any so-called “solar filter” that attaches to the eyepiece (i.e. smallest lens of a telescope); these so-called “solar filters” can easily crack from the Sun's heat and endanger eye-sight to direct solar rays. Never look through any telescope, binoculars, or any magnifying device at a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun or a Solar Transit of a Planet across the front of the Sun, unless you are sure a proper solar-viewing filter covers the objective lens (i.e. largest lens) and is operated by a trained astronomer;
6) X-Ray film, photographic film, or negatives;
7) Compact Discs, CD-ROM Discs, "Floppy Discs," or any other Computer Discs;
8) Darkened or "smoked" glass or plastic;
9) Eclipse Glasses in combination with any Camera (including cell-phone or smart-phone cameras), Telescope, Binoculars, or other optical devices that magnify images (however, eye-glasses can be used, so long as Eclipse Glasses are placed over-top eye-glasses);
10) No type of mirror, window or other glass, or any other reflecting device. The problem to eye-sight is the great power of solar radiation, including Ultra-Violet (UV) and Infra-Red (IR) radiation; any reflecting device simply reflects all of that radiation into your eyes.
11) NEVER use any "home-made" or "hand-made" Solar Eclipse Glasses, or any Solar Eclipse Glasses produced by a vendor that is not approved by the American Astronomical Society. Such Eclipse Glasses have no quality control in production, hence there is no way to know if such Eclipse Glasses are safe for eye-sight. Go to this link for more information on Solar Eclipse Glasses.

Unless it is SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR SOLAR ECLIPSE OBSERVING and UNDAMAGED (i.e. includes no pinholes or holes of any size), it should not be used !

The most common type of Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun is the Partial Solar Eclipse / Partial Eclipse of the Sun (which includes Solar Eclipses / Eclipses of the Sun described as "Annular" or "Hybrid"). This common type of Solar Eclipse is ALWAYS DANGEROUS to look at. Unless you have the proper training and proper equipment to do so safely, you should never attempt to directly view this type of Eclipse. There are several ways to indirectly view such an Eclipse, which can be done safely when done with care.


There is only one short time period when it is safe to look at a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun directly, with no artificial precautions. This is when a person is looking, specifically, at a Total Solar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Sun, specifically, when the person is within the Eclipse's Path of Totality, and specifically, during the short time period (a few minutes, often less) when the Eclipse is in the Total Phase. HOWEVER, all Partial Phases of a Total Solar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Sun (which includes Solar Eclipses / Eclipses of the Sun described as "Hybrid"), leading up to the Total Phase, and after the Total Phase, are dangerous to view directly unless you have the proper training and proper equipment to do so safely. SOLAR RADIATION IS DANGEROUS WHENEVER ANY PORTION OF THE SUN IS VISIBLE (the only exception is the view of the Solar Corona during the Total Phase of a Total Solar Eclipse, when the Moon blocks all direct light from the Sun). Again, there are several ways to indirectly view such an Eclipse, which can be done safely when done with care.


Safe Solar Viewing, When Done With Care !


  1. Internet or Television – Of course, the safest way to view any special solar event is on an Internet Web-Cast or a Television Newscast or special program. Often during special solar events such a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun or a Solar Transit of a Planet, professional organizations such as NASA, Los Angeles' Griffith Observatory, and Slooh Community Observatory provide web-casts on the Internet of such special events; check the specific web-site for a schedule of such web-casts. For a very special event, sometimes television stations and / or networks, particularly Cable Television Channels specializing in news or Science, will also broadcast the event; check local listings for time and channel.

  2. Public Observing Events – Often Science and educational institutions will sponsor public observing events where professional astronomical equipment, operated by trained astronomers, provide safe public viewing of a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun or Solar Transit of a Planet. Such institutions may also include live Internet video-streaming of the event from NASA or other science organizations, particularly for a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun where the institution's telescope observation cannot show a Total Eclipse, or when weather precludes local telescope observations of the event. Check with a local planetarium, astronomical observatory, science center or science museum, the science department (particularly if there is an astronomy or physics department) of a local college or university (or, possibly, high school), amateur astronomy club, or local library, to see if they are sponsoring such an event.

  3. Solar Pinhole Viewing Box – The following graphic shows an indirect way to safely view the partial phases of a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun (which includes Solar Eclipses / Eclipses of the Sun described as "Annular" or "Hybrid"), by building a Solar Pinhole Viewing Box (known as a Pinhole Camera). After building this box, you must turn your back to the Sun and allow the light from the Sun to shine through a pinhole (placed in a sheet of aluminum foil, adhered to the center of one end of the box) and shine on a white piece of typing, printer, or photocopy paper at the other end of the box; a small image of the Partial Solar Eclipse / Partial Eclipse of the Sun (which includes Solar Eclipses / Eclipses of the Sun described as "Annular" or "Hybrid") can then be seen projected on the white piece of paper. Do not expect a large or bright image of the Sun, since the pinhole cannot enlarge or brighten the image. NEVER LOOK THROUGH THE PINHOLE AT THE SUN! Of course, there are several variations on the idea of the Solar Pinhole Viewing Box including the simple use of two pieces of paper, one white with the other having the pinhole; in forests, natural pinhole cameras are sometimes formed through the dense foliage, with small images of the eclipsed Sun appearing on the ground.

    (Graphic Source: Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club. Graphic originally produced for Buhl Planetarium patrons, for the Solar Eclipse of 1991 July 11.)



  1. Solar Eclipse Glasses” – Over the last 30 years, technology has provided another safe way to view a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun. “Solar Eclipse Glasses,” or often just called “Eclipse Glasses,” have lenses made of aluminized and optical-grade Mylar (SPECIAL NOTE: Mylar used on Mylar balloons or food wrappers are NOT optical-grade), so dense that only light from the Sun can be seen with such Eclipse Glasses (more than 1,000 times darker than normal sunglasses!). Cheap, fake Eclipse Glasses have been advertised for sale, but should NEVER BE USED! To avoid the purchase of fake Eclipse Glasses, only buy or use Eclipse Glasses approved by the American Astronomical Society; go to this web-page on the American Astronomical Society web-site to read a list of the approved vendors of safe Eclipse Glasses:

    < https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters >

    The following are instructions on how to properly handle and use Eclipse Glasses:

    a) Eclipse Glasses are fragile and should be treated gently at all times. It would be best to store the Eclipse Glasses in an

    envelope.

    b) BEFORE EVERY USE, point the Eclipse Glasses toward an artificial light source (i.e. light bulb). If any light can be seen coming through the Eclipse Glasses, or if any damage (scratches, tears or small holes or pin-holes) is seen on the lenses (check front and back of both lenses), or if the Mylar lenses are starting to separate from the cardboard frames of the Eclipse Glasses, that pair of Eclipse Glasses should be discarded (tear or cut Eclipse Glasses into small pieces, so no one accidentally uses them). USE OF DAMAGED ECLIPSE GLASSES WOULD ALLOW DANGEROUS SUNLIGHT TO ENTER THE EYES, WHICH COULD LEAD TO EYE-SIGHT DAMAGE.

    c) For people wearing eye-glasses, Eclipse Glasses should be placed over-top the eye-glasses--that is, sunlight should enter the Eclipse Glasses before entering the eye-glasses.

    d) NEVER use Eclipse Glasses with any camera (including cell-phone or smart-phone cameras), telescope, binoculars, or any optical aid or device (except eye-glasses) that magnifies an image (or reflection of a magnified image); Eclipse Glasses are only designed to be used with the naked-eyes or with eye-glasses.

    e) DO NOT attempt to clean or disinfect Eclipse Glasses lenses with water or any other cleaning agent. If Eclipse Glasses are carefully taken care-of, including storage in an envelope, cleaning lenses should not be necessary. If dust is a concern, do nothing more than gently blow-off dust.

    (f) NEVER use any "home-made" or "hand-made" Solar Eclipse Glasses, or any Solar Eclipse Glasses produced by a vendor that is not approved by the American Astronomical Society. Such Eclipse Glasses have no quality control in production, hence there is no way to know if such Eclipse Glasses are safe for eye-sight.

    g) Eclipse Glasses are NOT toys. ECLIPSE GLASSES SHOULD ONLY BE USED BY CHILDREN, WITH ADULT SUPERVISION !

    5. NUMBER 14 WELDER'S GLASS – NUMBER 14 WELDER'S GLASS (ONLY WELDER'S GLASS RATED AT NUMBER 14, THE DARKEST SHADE AVAILABLE, IS STRONG ENOUGH TO BE SAFE FOR EYE-SIGHT) is safe enough for normal welding jobs and may be safe (but there are no guarantees) to view a Solar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Sun; welder's glass is designed specifically for welding jobs, not for solar observing. HOWEVER, only use Welder's Glass rated at Number 14; as with sunglasses, it is NOT SAFE to stack several lighter shades of welder's glass together. Although Number 14 Welder's Glass may be safe, since the Sun is so bright, using a Number 14 Welder's Glass can be uncomfortable.

For further questions about safely viewing a Solar Eclipse/Eclipse of the Sun, send an electronic mail message to

< eclipse@planetarium.cc >.

If you are in the Pittsburgh area, you can also telephone: 412-561-7876; regular long-distance charges apply, for telephone calls made from outside of the Pittsburgh area. Leave your question on the telephone answering machine.

Every effort will be made to return your electronic mail message or telephone call, prior to the solar eclipse.



Friends of the Zeiss
P.O. Box 1041
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.
Telephone: 412-561-7876
Electronic Mail: < friendsofthezeiss@planetarium.cc >
Internet Web Site: < http://www.friendsofthezeiss.org >



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SOLAR ECLIPSE / ECLIPSE OF THE SUN: TIPS FOR SAFE VIEWING

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