On August 21st of this year, there will be a total eclipse of the sun that will be visible in the United States. While solar eclipses are amazing, rare occurrences that many wish to see, they can also be extremely dangerous. During an eclipse, most of the face of the sun is blocked by the moon aligning perfectly with it, but people may stare at the partially eclipsed sun for too long and suffer from eye damage or even blindness. NASA has provided the following safety tips for viewers of the solar eclipse.
There have been many cases of people getting eye damage by looking at the sun without protection or while wearing regular sunglasses. Most eyewear is nowhere near as strong as they need to be to prevent eye damage. Instead, viewers should be wearing specialized glasses called solar filters, which make it safe for people to view eclipses without the high risk for damaging their eyes.
You should be constantly supervising children during solar eclipses as they may not understand the strength of the solar rays that they may be staring at. Keep them near and make sure that they wear their solar filters at all times during the eclipse.
Many people may be tempted to take off their solar filters in order to take a picture or look at the sun with binoculars. This, however, can prove to be extremely dangerous for your eyesight. Some unfiltered lenses may concentrate the amount of light that you are looking at through the lenses and can potentially damage your eyes even if you’re wearing solar filters. There are, though, some filters made for camera lenses which can allow photographers to take pictures, and which are advised should one choose to photograph the event.
There will be an extremely short period of time during the full solar eclipse when people may take off their filters without the risk of damaging their eyesight. This moment is called totality, which is when the moon is perfectly aligned with the sun and blocks a large amount of light. The moment when the moon moves and more sunlight is visible is when you should immediately put your solar filters back on.