Couldn't find element LayerAd

Error finding content

The Right Way to View a Solar Eclipse - Windows to the Universe

Shop Windows to the Universe

Check out the fun Earth science related bumper stickers in our online store! Express yourself!
If you plan on viewing a solar eclipse, make sure to protect your eyes.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of the Corel Corporation

The Right Way to View a Solar Eclipse

A solar eclipse is a spectacular event that many do not get a chance to see. A total solar eclipse, one in which the entire Sun is blocked by the Moon, is even rarer. Those that get an opportunity to see such an occurrence should take full advantage. However, you must make sure that the eclipse is not the last thing you see. If viewed improperly, the Sun can permanently damage your eyes. Fortunately, there are many safe and reliable ways to view a solar eclipse.

The old fashion way of viewing an eclipse is using a projection. This can be done a number of ways. A telescope can be lined up to face the Sun. Hold a piece of dark paper with a hole in it near the eyepiece and a sheet of white paper behind that. The eclipse will be projected onto the white paper.

This can also be done without using a telescope. A cardboard box can be made into a viewing box by putting a hole in one side, and allowing the Sun to project onto a white piece of paper inside it. The box will block out any unwanted light.

A more modern way of viewing the eclipse involves wearing a special type of glasses. Do NOT wear regular sunglasses! Although they protect your eyes from glaring UV rays, they do not hold up against direct rays from the Sun. A special type of sunglasses can be bought wherever the eclipse will be visible.

Remember, it is very important not to look at the Sun with your naked eye. Things like CDs, diskettes and regular sunglasses are not good for protection. Children are in extreme danger, so extra precaution should be taken when bringing them along. Just to be safe, create a projection device for the kids to use. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Last modified June 20, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. Cool It! is available in our online store.

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Solar Eclipses

An eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Earth passes through the Moon's shadow. A total eclipse of the Sun takes place only during a new moon, when the Moon is directly between the Sun and the Earth and...more

Last Solar Eclipse of the Millennium on August 11

The last solar eclipse of this millennium occurred on August 11, 1999. Amateurs and professionals alike used this opportunity to witness one of the most brilliant natural phenomenon. This was a total...more

The Solar Corona

Rising above the Sun's chromosphere , the temperature jumps sharply from a few tens of thousands of kelvins to as much as a few million kelvins in the Sun's outer atmosphere, the solar corona. Understanding...more

Solar Eclipses Were not Always Enjoyed

Eclipses have been monitored for centuries, but it was only recently that we understood what really occurs. Eclipses have always been fascinating to watch, but they weren't always welcome. For many years,...more

The Photosphere - the "Surface" of the Sun

Most of the energy we receive from the Sun is the visible (white) light emitted from the photosphere. The photosphere is one of the coolest regions of the Sun (6000 K), so only a small fraction (0.1%)...more

Helmet Streamers and the Magnetic Structure of the Corona

The gas in the solar corona is at very high temperatures (typically 1-2 million kelvins in most regions) so it is almost completely in a plasma state (made up of charged particles, mostly protons and electrons)....more

Sunspots

Sunspots are dark, planet-sized regions that appear on the "surface" of the Sun. Sunspots are "dark" because they are cooler than their surroundings. A large sunspot might have a central temperature of...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF