Eclipse Viewing Tips To Keep You Safe

What is the eclipse?

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly in front of the sun casting the moon’s shadow on the earth. Because of the vast distances between the sun, the moon and the earth, this shadow is only about 70 miles in diameter at the earth’s surface, and travels rapidly across the ground, faster than the speed of sound. On August 21, 2017, the shadow will pass over the entire continental US, allowing a rare opportunity for millions of Americans to witness an unforgettable astronomical event in their own backyard. – Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Director of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization

Read below for some Eclipse Viewing Tips from the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization:

1) Safety first! Never look directly at the sun with the naked eye or through a telescope, camera, binoculars or anything else. It is only safe if you are using special-purpose solar glasses or filters, and during the brief minutes of totality when the sun is completely covered by the moon.

2) If you are traveling to see the eclipse, make sure you get to within the zone of totality. You must be in the path of the moon’s shadow to experience the full eclipse and see the sun’s corona. The difference between being in the zone and outside it is night and day – literally! However, if you can’t make it to the zone, make sure you still (safely) check out the sun because you will see a partial solar eclipse – a fascinating sight.

3) To add to your solar eclipse experience, and to view the partial eclipse safely, make your own pinhole projector! All you need to do is make a small hole in a piece of cardstock, then stand with your back to the sun, and hold the card 2-3 feet above the ground. In the shadow of the card you will see the image of partially eclipsed Sun. Dappled sunlight under a tree or your interlaced fingers also make great pinholes. Here are instructions for making your own viewer.

4) If you are feeling ambitious, learn how to photograph the eclipse. To do it properly you’ll need to get your hands on equipment like a DSLR camera, long lens and solar filter, and tripod. But, if it’s your first total eclipse we recommend you just experience it and don’t miss the action trying to take photographs!

Why should we care?

Witnessing a total solar eclipse is a life-changing experience. In the 1-2 minutes of totality you get the precious opportunity to see the universe from a different perspective. You will appreciate the scale and mechanics of the solar system and see with your own eyes the beauty of the outer atmosphere of the sun. –Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Director of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization

Thank you to the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization for providing the info for this article.