NASA recommends safety tips to view the August solar eclipse

July 24, 2017, NASA
A total solar eclipse, which is when the Moon completely covers the Sun, will occur across 14 states in the continental U.S. on Aug 21, 2017. Credit: NASA

More than 300 million people in the United States potentially could directly view the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, and NASA wants everyone who will witness this celestial phenomenon to do so safely.

That Monday, a will be visible in every state. A , which is when the Moon completely covers the sun, will occur across 14 in the continental U.S. along a 70-mile-wide (112-kilometer-wide) swath of the country.

It's common sense not to stare directly at the sun with your naked eyes or risk damaging your vision, and that advice holds true for a partially eclipsed sun. But, only with special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer, you can safely look directly at the sun. 

NASA recommends that people who plan to view the eclipse should check the safety authenticity of viewing glasses to ensure they meet basic proper safety viewing standards.

Eclipse viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers should meet all the following criteria:

  • Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
  • Have the manufacturer's name and address printed somewhere on the product
  • Not be used if they are older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses
  • Not use homemade filters
  • Ordinary sunglasses—even very dark ones—should not be used as a replacement for eclipse viewing glasses or handheld solar viewers

"While NASA isn't trying to be the eclipse safety glasses 'police,' it's our duty to inform the public about safe ways to view what should be a spectacular sky show for the entire continental United States," said Alex Young, associate director for science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "It's important that individuals take the responsibility to check they have the proper solar eclipse viewing glasses. With the eclipse a month away today, it's prudent to practice ahead of time."

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially-eclipsed sun is with a pinhole projector. With this method, sunlight streams through a small hole – such as a pencil hole in a piece of paper, or even the space between your fingers – onto a makeshift screen, such as a piece of paper or the ground. It's important to only watch the screen, not the sun. Never look at the sun through the pinhole—it is not safe.

Explore further: Rare US total solar eclipse excites Americans coast-to-coast

More information: NASA has coordinated with medical and science professionals to provide additional safety information. For details, visit eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety

Related Stories

Video: Eclipse ballooning project

June 5, 2017

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will crossthe entire nation on Monday, August 21, 2017. Over the course of 100 minutes, 14 states across the United States will experience over two minutes of darkness ...

Recommended for you

Neutron-star merger yields new puzzle for astrophysicists

January 18, 2018

The afterglow from the distant neutron-star merger detected last August has continued to brighten - much to the surprise of astrophysicists studying the aftermath of the massive collision that took place about 138 million ...

New technique for finding life on Mars

January 18, 2018

Researchers demonstrate for the first time the potential of existing technology to directly detect and characterize life on Mars and other planets. The study, published in Frontiers in Microbiology, used miniaturized scientific ...

North, east, south, west: The many faces of Abell 1758

January 18, 2018

Resembling a swarm of flickering fireflies, this beautiful galaxy cluster glows intensely in the dark cosmos, accompanied by the myriad bright lights of foreground stars and swirling spiral galaxies. A1758N is a sub-cluster ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

adam_russell_9615
not rated yet Jul 24, 2017
The perfection of the size match is astounding.
Based on average earth to moon and earth to sun orbital distance and their sizes, doing the math shows that the moon is just 1.2% too small (or too far away) to perfectly block the sun. That is an almost unbelievable coincidence.

If you do the math yourself remember to calculate distance from earth surface to moon, since that is where your eye is. You have to subtract 1 earth radius from orbital distance

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.