This Aug. 21, the entire United States will experience a partial eclipse of the sun lasting 2 to 3 hours. Parts of 11 states will experience a total solar eclipse (this does not include Houston). If you want to watch the partial eclipse, make sure to take care of your vision during the eclipse. Looking directly at the sun during most of an eclipse can permanently damage your vision or blind you.
Keep in mind that ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun during a solar eclipse.
The safest way to view the eclipse is to watch it online. NASA will have a live stream of the eclipse. Or, find an event at a local planetarium or science center where you know the right safety measures have been taken. Click here to learn about safe viewing centers in the Houston area: https://www.click2houston.com/news/eclipse/houston-watch-the-great-american-eclipse
There is only one safe way to look directly at the sun, whether during an eclipse or not: through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in “eclipse glasses” or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2.
Order safe viewing eclipse glasses:
To see a complete eclipse of the sun, you need to be in the right place. The area that will have a complete eclipse – the path of totality – is only 70 miles wide and will move across the continent very quickly. Areas outside the path of totality will have a partial eclipse. Only part of the sun is blocked even at the peak of the eclipse. In those areas, there is no safe time to look at the sun with the naked eye. You must protect your eyes while watching the entire eclipse.
If you order safe viewing eclipse glasses, here are steps to follow for safely watching a solar eclipse:
- Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.
- Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
- Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter—do not remove it while looking at the sun.
- The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.
- Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes.