Total Solar Eclipse To Hit The Earth: How To Comfortably View It
Solar: If you had not heard it, an important eclipse will soon occur. The United States has not had a total visible solar eclipse from coast to coast (from the Pacific to the Atlantic) since 1918 – so we thought we would give some retina-safe options to see the eclipse on August 21, 2017.
And to be clear, safety is paramount. Repeat after me:
- Do not watch any phase of the eclipse with your naked eye.
- Keep in mind that conventional sunglasses will not protect your eyes.
- Spectators of cheap, unsecured eclipses that are sold will not protect their eyes, either.
We have drawn those points from NASA’s safety tips to prevent eye injuries during an eclipse, and you should read all those suggestions.
When it comes to buying eclipse glasses, the emptor warning is applied – your vision is on the line, it is very important to know that you are getting the viewers with the proper protection.
To do this, we have used NASA guidelines to create our recommendations for the eclipse display team. The most important rule while buying is that there are specific manufacturers and sellers that sell certified glasses / spectators that comply with the international standard ISO 12312-2 (that is what you will need to be protected from the sun while staring). The American Astronomical Society has an excellent summary of manufacturers, vendors and retail chains where you can get sunscreen equipment, and that’s more information on our list.
Cheap and easy: paper glasses ($ 1 and more)
We have seen them before, they are paper frames that look like old school 3D glasses, but instead of the old cyan / red combo, they are equipped with solar display material. You can purchase these in packages for around a dollar per pair, making a great choice for families, teachers or organizations hoping to provide large amounts on the cheap. Again, make sure you are getting one made by or approved by the manufacturers AAS list.
Do you have a pair that puts around your plan to reuse? If they are wrinkled, cracked, or over 3 years old, litter. They are dangerous and may not provide sufficient protection.
Sturdier but still cheap: Plastic glasses / cardboard spectators ($ 10 – $ 20)
We have seen somewhat tougher options, such as plastic frames that look like sunglasses, and folding carton viewers. This is a great option if you want your glasses to last a little longer, but again, make sure you are buying from a company that sources your material from the AAS list (eg: Celestron viewers often use the Solar display material from American Optical Paper).
The ‘maybe I have this in my garage’ option: welding shields / glasses (free- $ 20)
This is complicated because while you may have a pair of welding goggles in your garage, they have to be at least 14 or more dark shade to enough, according to NASA. You can also pick up a simple piece of 14+ shade glass from a welder at a supply store and keep it between your eyes and the sun to see the eclipse. In shadow 14 and above, they are dark enough to meet the transmittance requirements for ISO 12312-2: 2015. The thing is, most basic welding glasses are not as heavy – and if it is not Sure, it’s not worth taking the risk. Trust us.
Get a closer look at a reasonable price: Solar Display Binoculars ($ 20- $ 80)
I’ve never heard of sun-vision binoculars, but it’s a very good idea. The use of binoculars with approved ISO sunscreens, such as this Celestron model, allows you to get a slightly magnified look in the sun. You will have to exercise a little caution putting them in and out of your face, but if you are a solar enthusiast, this could be a great option. (Note: Never use standard binoculars to look at the Sun. If you have ever had a magnifying glass on an ant on a sunny day … well, imagine the ant is your retina.
Going eclipse gonzo: A telescope with sunscreen lens (Price: potentially astronomical)
If you already have a telescope, you’re probably more space enthusiast than I am, so I might be repeating what you already know. But you can buy sunscreens for your telescope that allow you to get a closer look without damaging your eyes. Some of these filters are relatively affordable, and some can be very expensive, allowing you to see the sun at very specific wavelengths. (Again, never see the sun through a telescope without the right equipment.