Plan Ahead to Safely Observe the Great American Eclipse
As you may know, this Aug. 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will envelop the entire nation. Although some 500 million people across North America will see at least a partial eclipse, there's a narrow, 70-mile band from Oregon to South Carolina, where nearly 12 million people live, that will experience the phenomenon of 'totality.'
Totality, the point at which the moon completely blocks the sun, is the only time during a solar eclipse when it is safe to remove special eclipse glasses or viewers to gaze on the obscured sun. Everyone else must view the partially eclipsed sun through eclipse glasses or viewers that meet ISO 12312-2 international standards, or through devices such as pinhole projectors. WOA President, Dr. David P. Nelson, notes, “Since Wisconsin is not an area that will experience complete coverage, wearing glasses specifically designed for eclipse viewing is critical.”
Here are four ways to safely view a solar eclipse:
- Use approved solar eclipse viewers. The only safe way to view a partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as "eclipse glasses" or viewers that meet international standard ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. Sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters are unsafe. If you can't find eclipse viewers, build a pinhole projector to watch the eclipse.
- Technique of the pros. Before looking at the sun, cover your eyes with the eclipse viewers while standing still. Glance at the sun, turn away and then remove your filter. Do not remove the filter while looking at the sun.
- Totality awesome. If you plan to travel and observe the eclipse within the path of totality - once the moon completely blocks the sun - eclipse viewers can safely be removed to view totality. Once the sun begins reappearing, however, viewers must be replaced.
- Visit your doctor of optometry. If you should experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse, visit your local doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye examination.
Fun Facts about the 2017 Great American Eclipse:
This will be the first total solar eclipse to touch the U.S. mainland since 1979 and the first to cross from coast to coast since 1918.
The partial eclipse will last between two and three hours, and the total eclipse (within the path) will last just under three minutes.
Tens of millions of people will experience total eclipse, while hundreds of millions more will see the partial eclipse.
The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will occur on April 8, 2024.
For more information, please visit eclipse.aas.org.