Here’s what can happen when you see an eclipse incorrectly and how to avoid it this April

A stunning total solar eclipse will be visible to millions of people in Mexico, the United States and Canada on April 8.

Astronomers are encouraging everyone along the way to enjoy this rare sight one last time until August 2044, but only if they can do so safely. And sunglasses will not be enough to protect your eyes in this celestial event.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, completely blocking the face of the sun.

Those within the path of totality, or places where the moon’s shadow will completely cover the sun, will see a total solar eclipse. People outside the path of totality will still be able to see a partial solar eclipse, where the moon only blocks part of the sun’s face.

If your location only allows viewing of the partial solar eclipse, some of the powerful sunlight will always be visible. And any glimpse of the sun’s brightness with the naked eye is not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous.

Why you shouldn’t look directly at the eclipse

The only time it is safe to view the sun without eye protection is during the “totality” of a total solar eclipse, or the brief moments when the moon completely blocks the sun’s light, according to POT.

Looking directly at the sun can cause blindness or vision problems. During the 2017 total solar eclipse, a young woman was diagnosed with solar retinopathy (damage to the retina from exposure to solar radiation) in both eyes after viewing the eclipse with what doctors believed were eclipse glasses that They did not meet safety standards.

There is no treatment for solar retinopathy. It may get better or worse, but it is a permanent condition.

Use of eclipse glasses and solar viewers.

To view the eclipse, wear certified eclipse glasses or use a portable solar viewer. Separately, you can observe the sun with a telescope, binoculars, or a camera that has special sun filter on the frontwhich acts the same way eclipse glasses would.

“You need a certificate ISO 12312-2 solar eclipse compatible glasses. There are a lot of secure sellers online,” said Alex Lockwood, strategic content and integration leader for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get a pair of certified, safe solar eclipse glasses to be able to witness this annular event.”

Sunglasses will not work in place of eclipse glasses or solar visors, which are 100,000 times darker and meet an international safety standard.

The lenses of solar eclipse glasses are made of black polymer, or resin with carbon particles, which blocks almost all visible, infrared and ultraviolet light, according to The planetary society. Sunglasses do not block infrared radiation.

For safe manufacturers and resellers of eclipse glasses and filters for optical devices, including cameras and smartphones, see the list curated by the American Astronomical Society.

Put on your eclipse glasses before looking up, and remember to get away from the sun before taking them off again. Always keep an eye on children wearing eclipse glasses to make sure they do not remove them while looking at the sun.

If you normally wear glasses, keep them on and put on eclipse glasses or hold a hand-held viewer in front of them, according to the American Astronomical Society.

Do not view the sun through any unfiltered optical device (camera lens, telescope, binoculars) while using eclipse glasses or a portable solar viewer, according to POT. The sun’s rays can still burn through the filter of your glasses or visor, given how concentrated they can be through an optical device, and can cause serious eye damage.

It is also possible to use welding filters to view the eclipse safely because the international safety standard was partially derived from using such filters to view the sun.

Welding filters made of tempered glass or metal-coated polycarbonate and with a shade number of 12 or higher allow for safe viewing, but shade 13 or 14 is considered by many to be the best and similar to wearing eclipse glasses, depending on the American Astronomical Society. Just know that the sun will appear green instead of a yellowish-orange or white color. These filters are not typically found on supply store shelves, but may be available online.

Adjustable or self-darkening welding helmets are not recommended because they may not darken quickly enough to see the sun.

keep your glasses

As long as the eclipse glasses or solar viewers you are using meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standard and are not broken, scratched, or damaged in any way, they do not “expire” and can be used indefinitely. Plus, there’s no limit to how long you can watch the sun while wearing them.

Some glasses and scopes carry outdated warnings about wearing the glasses for more than three minutes at a time or recommend throwing them away after more than three years, but these do not apply to ISO 12312-2 certified scopes, according to the American Astronomical Society. .

Save your eclipse glasses and viewers for future eclipses by storing them at room temperature in an envelope or in their original packaging to avoid scratches.

Never use water, glass cleaner, baby wipes, or other wet wipes to clean eclipse glasses; Moisture could cause the cardboard frames to detach from the lenses. Instead, carefully wipe the lenses with a tissue or cloth.

Indirect visualization of the eclipse.

If you don’t have certified glasses on hand, eclipses can also be viewed indirectly using a pinhole projector, like a hole punched in a chip. These work when you have your back to the sun and hold the card. The hole projects a crescent- or ring-shaped image of the sun onto the ground or other surfaces.

But never look at the sun or look directly at it through the hole.

Other pinhole projectors you may already have on hand include strainers, straw hats, or anything with small holes in it. Or you can simply raise your hands, spread your fingers, and cross them to create a waffle pattern. The small space between them will reflect the Sun’s crescent during a partial eclipse or a ring during the annular eclipse.

Standing next to a leafy tree? The small spaces between the leaves will smear eclipse phase patterns on the ground.

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