I’ll make this brief, since I’ve started to work on my Dewalt media event coverage and have my own eclipse-viewing preparations to make.
If you don’t have properly rated eclipse glasses by now, you’re probably not going to be able to find them anywhere. Your best bet is to find a friend or family member that has extras. If you want to try anyways, here’s some info: https://eclipse.aas.org/resources/solar-filters ; scroll down to “retail chains.”
You might be able to score eclipse glasses at certain public events – there’s more info at that previous link.
There are plenty of articles about how to experience the eclipse without special glasses. Most focus on how to make projections of the sun for safe viewing.
Why do you need eclipse glasses?
Have you ever went outside during the later morning or early afternoon and felt the sun on your face, arm, neck, back, or other part of your body? You know how your car gets hot if you leave it in the sun? How metal surfaces can be hot to the touch?
Looking at the sun without proper safety filters will cook your eyeballs. No, it’s not that simple, but hopefully it helps the point get across.
Think of a sunburn, but one that permanently burns the insides of your eyes very quickly. Even worse, you won’t feel it happening, and so you might think your actions aren’t causing any harm or injury. I suppose it’s like touching a hot pan with your hand, when your arm is numb.
A solar eclipse makes the sun appear less bright, but the visual light is still bright enough to damage your eyes. The infrared light is high enough to damage your eyes. The ultraviolet light is high enough to damage your eyes.
Because the sun appears less bright when occluded by the moon, your instinct to look away is reduced – from what I’ve read. But the risk and potential for irreparable harm is not reduced at all.
The recent alerts and controversy about counterfeit or non-ISO-rated eclipse glasses is because they might not reduce the visual, IR, or UV light enough to be safe and avoid harm.
One of the AAS’s recommended brands of solar eclipse glasses block:
- 100% of IR light
- 100% of UV light
- 99.999% of visual light
Ineffective solar eclipse glasses that aren’t rated or certified in any way might block visual light, but might not block enough UV or IR light. If there hasn’t been proper 3rd party testing or vetting, there’s no way to know.
Don’t look at the sun with unprotected eyes.
Do NOT look at the sun with unprotected eyes.
DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT PROTECTION.
Even if you have brand new solar eclipse filter glasses from an ISO-rated reputable manufacturer and retailer, inspect them before use. Follow the directions. Use caution.
As a reminder, sunglasses, polarized or not, do NOT offer solar eclipse protection.
Only properly tested, certified, and undamaged solar eclipse glasses, when used as directed by the manufacture and authorities on solar eclipse viewing, are designed for direct visual viewing of the sun.
If you’re in the path of totality, what I’ve read is that it’s only safe to remove filtering glasses once no light can be seen through solar eclipse glasses. Once the tiniest bit of light returns, the glasses must be worn again. Refer to authoritative sites or advice for more information.
NASA has some good safety information. Please give it a quick read-through.
Do NOT look through unfiltered lenses of any kind, even if you’re wearing solar eclipse glasses.
I am not an authority on the matter. It’s your responsibility to learn more, I simply wanted to remind you of a few things you might have already read or heard, and to urge you to spend a few more minutes to learn what you need to protect yourself and those who might rely on you for safety advice. Nothing I wrote here should be construed as professional advice, because it’s not. In addition to the NASA link, the NSF American Astronomical Society has a wealth of info: https://eclipse.aas.org/. Here’s their page on eye safety: https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety .
I talked to many friends, acquaintances, and random people these past few days, during my trip to Dewalt’s media event, and some of the misinformation I heard ranged from mildly incorrect to widely dangerous and absurd. Look to NASA, the AAS, and other authorities for eclipse safety information and advice.
Here’s a simulation of what you can expect to see at what times: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/7/25/16019892/solar-eclipse-2017-interactive-map
Be safe, and enjoy the eclipse!
I’d love to hear about your experiences! Good luck, and clear skies to all!
Oh, and if you’re on the road, be safe! Lots of local authorities are recommending that anyone driving to areas of totality bring all the water, food, and toilet paper they might need. I also heard of expected gas shortages, but didn’t see that on the news yet.
If you’re travelling for work, good luck. There are already huge delays on certain highways.
Image: Captured on Jan. 30, 2014, by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory observing an eclipse from space.