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SOLAR ECLIPSE SAFETY by Marcin Chojnowski, ASC Eclipse Intern

Remember when you were just a kid and adults would tell you to never look at the Sun because you could damage your eyes? That fact will hold true so long as the Sun shines in our sky. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule so that you can SAFELY view the Sun during the partial stages of a solar eclipse.

Before explaining safe viewing methods, let’s discuss items that should NOT be used to view a solar eclipse. 

NEVER USE THE FOLLOWING ITEMS TO WATCH THE ECLIPSE:

Sunglasses (not even two pairs!), polarized film, x-ray film, smoked glass, binoculars, telescope (unless you have the necessary solar filter)

Through the excitement and anticipation of a total solar eclipse, certain safety precautions should be considered.

  1. During the partial stages of the eclipse, NEVER look directly at any part of the exposed Sun with the naked eye.
  2. Protect your eyes by using eclipse (aka solar filter) glasses that have special filters to keep you safe from harmful solar rays.
  3. If you are in the path of totality, you CAN take off your glasses only during totality, when the ENTIRE Sun is covered by the moon. When totality is reached, you won’t be able to see anything through the glasses and will know it’s safe to remove them. Be sure to put them back on when the Sun starts to reappear.

There are two ways to view partial phases of a solar eclipse, one direct and the other indirect.

DIRECT VIEWING

You may use specially marked “eclipse glasses.” These glasses reflect 99.999% of light rays. They make the Sun appear extremely dim but also shield your eyes from dangerous Ultraviolet Rays (which you can’t see). You can pick some up for $2 a pair in Spark! Science Emporium at the Science Center.

If you’ve already gotten, or are planning to get, tickets to the exclusive indoor Music City Solar Eclipse Festival & Viewing Party experience… your glasses are already reserved!

If you forgot to grab a pair of eclipse glasses, don’t worry! There are other ways to see the eclipse safely that you can make at home.

INDIRECT VIEWING

You can use a pinhole projector to view the Sun without looking at it directly. These are made from a box with a small hole cut out of one side of the box. The other end has a white piece of paper inside, which is a viewing screen where the sun’s image is projected.

When lined up correctly, sunlight goes through the pinhole and you can see an image of the Sun on the white piece of paper. If you’re lucky, you may even see sunspots on the surface of the sun!

If you’re not up for the arts and crafts involved with making a pinhole projector, you can also use a strainer or colander from your kitchen. The holes in a strainer are perfect points for the Sun’s light to go through and project onto the ground. (You could even use a Ritz cracker with this method!) It’s like seeing dozens of Suns eclipsed by the Moon.

Using the direct and indirect methods outlined above, you can safely view a solar eclipse in more than one way. No matter which way you choose to watch the eclipse, know that it will be one of nature’s spectacles that you will never forget!

- Marcin Chojnowski, ASC Eclipse Intern

Music City Solar Eclipse Festival & Viewing Party

Posted by Molly Hornbuckle at 10:30 AM
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800 Fort Negley Blvd. Nashville, TN 37203
615-862-5160
Hours: 10:00am - 5:00pm
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