by Brittany Cotton
An eclipse of the Sun happens quite frequently across the globe. From partial to total eclipses, these phenomena are truly sights to see. However, watching them with the naked eye can lead to vision damage in a matter of seconds. Learn how you can safely observe an eclipse with a few clever tricks.
- Understand the Science Behind Eclipses
Essentially, an eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the Sun’s light rays to the Earth. Depending on the time of year, this alignment can form either a partial or total eclipse. In addition, other changes occur when the light fades across the globe. For example, this alignment also impacts the ocean tides. Certainly, the moon’s position relative to Earth slightly alters its gravitational forces, which impacts nature simultaneously.
In the past, cultures around the globe would either fear or praise an eclipse. Because it was a strange and misunderstood experience, eclipses sparked traditions among ancient people that are still observed today.
Currently, watching an eclipse is possible with the help of scientific inventions and indirect methods. As a result, everyone can enjoy the science and traditions behind this phenomenon.
- Purchase Eclipse Glasses
Primarily, the easiest and safest way to view an eclipse is through specialized glasses. Eclipse glasses or solar viewers have darkened lenses made from black polymer, for example. At first glance, these glasses simply look like sunglasses. However, the lenses are much different.
Specifically, eclipse glasses allow very little light through their lenses. As a result, you can look directly at an eclipse without any eye damage. You’ll find these glasses sold online or at local retailers as an eclipse event approaches. Ideally, wear them only for a single event. Saving eclipse glasses and reusing them might lead to eye damage. The lenses can get scratched when stored, for instance. As a safety measure, purchasing new glasses each time is the best way to protect your eyes.
- Try Solar Filters Attached to Binoculars
Next, consider solar filters for your binoculars. These products are specifically designed for viewing the Sun. Ideally, purchase them from a reputable dealer. Inspect the lenses before attaching them to the binoculars, too. For safe viewing, there cannot be any scratches on the lenses.
Preferably, verify that your solar filters fit perfectly on your binoculars brand. For example, there might be hook-and-loop straps or thumbscrews for proper connection. If the filters don’t rest level and tight against the binoculars, sunlight might leak into view. Any sunlight entering the binoculars can damage your eyes. To avoid this, only use filters designed for your specific binoculars brand.
- Create a Pinhole Projector
Safely observe the eclipse by using a standard cereal box or similar shape. Inside the box, tape a white piece of paper to one side. On the opposite side of the box, create a pinhole with a sharp knife. Essentially, you’ll hold the box up to the Sun so that the light enters the pinhole and reflects on the white paper within.
Next, create a small opening in the box that’s adjacent to the pinhole. This opening is your viewing spot. As the eclipse begins, allow the waning light to go through the pinhole as you look into the box through the opening. You should see the eclipse’s reflection on the white paper.
- Consider Indirect Viewing
A great way to get the kids involved with eclipse viewing is by using a kitchen colander. They have multiple, small holes across the metal or plastic surface. First, go outside with the colander before the eclipse. Hold the colander out so that it casts a shadow on the ground. Right now, the shadow should simply reflect the Sun’s rays in perfect circles as they shine through the colander’s holes.
As the eclipse commences, continue to watch the colander’s shadow on the ground. Indeed, those perfect circles will slowly change shape. Depending on the type of eclipse, you’ll see crescent shapes reflected on the ground. Because you continually watch the shadows and light on the ground, this indirect eclipse viewing is safe for the eyes.
For centuries, many cultures have valued and spun tales around eclipse experiences. Create your own traditions with these safe viewing ideas. Space and science are remarkable to observe at any age.