Looking directly at the Sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (
totality), when the Moon entirely blocks the Sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality.
The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as
eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the Sun. To date four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.
Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter. Always supervise children using solar filters.
An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed Sun is pinhole projection. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other. With your back to the Sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the Sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse.
A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime.
An eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon move into alignment with each other. One of the bodies blocks the view of another and creates a shadow. There are 2 different types of eclipses: solar and lunar. A lunar eclipse happens at nighttime and occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon creating a shadow on the Moon. These types of eclipses occur roughly 2 to 4 times per year. A lunar eclipse will generally last for a few hours.