As the big day fast approaches for the first total eclipse for the continental United States since 1979, the national space agency has issued a warning all Americans. NASA’s guidelines for viewing next months total solar eclipse start with the normal warning of “Don’t look directly at the sun during the eclipse.
The government agency reminds everyone that the only safe way to look directly at a partially eclipsed or uneclipsed Sun are via special-purpose solar filters, including “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. A NASA spokesperson said; “Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the Sun,” that is due to the radiated light waves that we don’t see, such as ultra-violet and infrared.
NASA added that four manufacturers have certified their eclipse glasses meet the international standards: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17. In addition, if you have a Welders mask, it may be used to observe the event. NASA has also said that any solar filter you plan on using, should be inspected prior to use. If it is scratched or damaged in an way, it should be discarded. Children should also be carefully supervised when using special filters, NASA said.
Glasses or solar filters should be put on prior to looking at the sun, users should stand looking at the ground with their backs to the sun before putting on any device. After the eclipse is over, they should remove their viewing devices only after turning away from the sun and again looking at the ground. The viewing filter should not, for any reason, be removed while still looking at the Sun. Additionally, the Sun or eclipse should not ever be viewed with an unfiltered camera, telescope, binocular or telescope, or “serious injury” to your eyes will result.
Lastly, NASA said if you live within the “path of totality” (a swath of the U.S. stretching from South Carolina to Oregon), the solar viewing filter should only be removed when the Moon completely cover’s the Sun and it gets very dark. As the Sun reappears, the solar viewer should be put back on to look at the rest of the eclipse. Remember, if you have to squint or your eyes water while wearing your viewing device, it is not doing the job. You need to stop looking at the sun immediately.
The first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. Since 1979 will happen on August 21 and will be visible across all of North America. The partial solar eclipse will last between two and three hours, and cover the entire continent. For a lucky section of the country stretching in an arc from South Carolina to Oregon, the eclipse will be a total eclipse and the Moon will completely block the Sun for approximately 2 minutes and 40 seconds, with stars and planets becoming visible, as well as the Sun’s outer atmosphere, something NASA described as “one of nature’s most awesome sights.”