How to stay safe when watching the total solar eclipse

NASA and the Better Business Bureau have revealed ways for spectators to stay safe during the 2024 total solar eclipse, ranging from the right eyewear to solar eclipse scams.

Both organizations revealed specific ways to protect your pupils and your pockets while observing the solar eclipse.

Eclipse Safety

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released a report titled ‘Eclipse Safety,’ which reveals how you can protect yourself while watching this natural phenomenon.

The report explains the importance of appropriate eye protection and what not to do when watching a partial, annular, or total eclipse.

NASA warns that looking through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without appropriate solar filters will “instantly cause severe eye injury.”

The organization urges those planning to observe the solar eclipse to watch using special glasses or a handheld solar viewing device fit for purpose.

Eclipse glasses are not sunglasses – regular sunglasses are unsafe for viewing the sun. “Safe solar viewers are thousands of times darker and should comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard,” the report states.

Those who wear eclipse glasses or use solar viewers should not look at the eclipse through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or other optic devices, as “the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury.”

If you don’t have any protective gear, the article instructs viewers on creating a pinhole projector that works to project the sun's image onto a surface close by.

Safety during a total eclipse

NASA outlines the differences between annular, partial, and total eclipses, noting that there are distinctions between each form of eclipse.

This year, a total eclipse will sweep North America, and those looking to marvel at the wonders of this natural phenomenon should take decisive action to ensure their safety.

NASA has highlighted some key guidelines to follow if you’re planning to view the total eclipse.

  • Use protection – ensure you’re wearing eclipse glasses or a solar viewer during the partial eclipse phase, both before and after.
  • Viewing the eclipse without eye protection – you can observe the eclipse without eye protection when “the moon completely obscures the Sun’s bright face” during the period known as totality.
  • After totality – begin using eye protection immediately after the sun begins to reappear.

Don’t forget to protect your skin by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing, as you may be outside for many hours, NASA warns.

Solar eclipse scams

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns of solar eclipse scams this total eclipse and warns that those purchasing solar eclipse glasses should ensure their legitimacy.

The BBB urges those searching for solar eyewear to look for reputable businesses. Although NASA does not approve any particular eyewear brand, you can look for the BBB and the American Astronomical Society’s approval when hunting for solar glasses.

Alongside the BBB and NASA, The American Astronomical Society (AAS) warns millions of North Americans of illegitimate products sold to shield their eyes from the Sun.

The AAS has identified many unidentified factories in China that are producing fake eclipse glasses under the names of legitimate manufacturers who are producing safe products.

Although the AAS has identified that some counterfeit products are safe to use, it should be noted that they may not protect you as well as legitimate vendors.

But there are ways of identifying counterfeit products to ensure that you’re safe while watching the eclipse.

Spotting fake eclipse equipment

The AAS has outlined some ways you can spot fake eclipse protection. For example, if you have not purchased your eyewear from a vetted vendor, then it may not be legitimate.

If you can see household items such as furniture or objects when you’re looking through your glasses, then they are not dark enough, one expert who spoke to the AAS said.

Test them on a sunny day outside – if they’re dark enough, you won’t be able to see anything through them.

Furthermore, AAS suggests glancing at the sun through your glasses for a moment (less than a second), and you should see a “sharp-edged, round disk (the Sun’s visible “face”) that’s comfortably bright

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