Eye Safety During a Solar Eclipse
It is never safe to look directly at the Sun or a reflection of the Sun – even if the Sun is partly obscured. This includes when using binoculars, a camera, or a telescope.Partial and Annular Solar Eclipse Safety
Partial and Annular Solar Eclipse Safety
When watching a partial solar eclipse or annular solar eclipse, you must wear safe solar viewing glasses (eclipse glasses) at all times if you want to face the Sun. Eclipse glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing the Sun.
If you don’t have eclipse glasses, you can use an alternate indirect method, such as a pinhole projector, which projects an image of the Sun onto a nearby surface.
Check for local information on the timing of when the partial and/or annular eclipse will begin and end in your location so you know when to start watching. NASA's page of eclipse times is a good place to start.
Total Solar Eclipse Safety
Total Solar Eclipse Safety
During a total solar eclipse, there are some important safety actions you can take.
Wear your eclipse glasses during the partial eclipse phase.
You can only take your glasses off during the short time when the Moon completely obscures the Sun – known as the period of totality.
It's crucial that you know when to take off and put back on your glasses.
Check for local information on the timing of when the total eclipse will begin and end in your location. NASA's page of eclipse times is a good place to start.
The Sun provides important clues for when totality is about to start and end. Here are the signs that the Sun is reaching totality. Totality only occurs during a total solar eclipse. It will never occur during a partial solar eclipse or during an annular solar eclipse.
1) As the Moon moves in front of the Sun, eventually only a single bright spot will remain. In combination with the atmosphere of the Sun still visible around the Moon, the Sun will look like a giant diamond ring.
2) As the Moon continues to move across the Sun, this bright spot may break up into several points of light that shine around the Moon’s edges. Known as Baily's Beads, these are light rays from the Sun streaming through the valleys along the Moon's horizon. Baily’s Beads are very short-lived, and may not last long enough to be noticeable to all observers of the total solar eclipse.
3) Another indicator that the Sun is about to enter totality are shadow bands. Shadow bands are rapidly moving long dark bands separated by white spaces. In the upper atmosphere there are turbulent cells of air that act like lenses to focus and defocus the sharp-edged light from the solar surface just before totality. Shadow bands can be seen on the sides of buildings or the ground just before and after totality. It is still not safe to look at the Sun at this point! Only when these spots completely disappear can you safely look at the Sun.
4) Once the Baily’s Beads disappear and there is no longer any direct sunlight, you may look at the total eclipse safely with the naked eye. During totality, viewers may be able to see the chromosphere (a region of the solar atmosphere, appearing as the thin circle of color around the Moon) and the corona (the outer solar atmosphere, appearing as streams of white light). Be vigilant to protect your eyes before totality ends. Totality may last only a minute or two in some locations.
5) As the Moon continues to move across the face of the Sun, you will begin to see brightening on the opposite side from where the diamond ring shone at the beginning. This is the lower atmosphere of the Sun, beginning to peek out from behind the Moon and it is your signal to stop looking directly at the eclipse. Make sure you have your eclipse glasses back on – or are otherwise watching the eclipse through a safe, indirect method – before the first flash of sunlight appears around the edges of the Moon.
Baily’s Beads and Diamond Ring – Again!
6) Once your eyes are protected again, you may continue to watch the final stages of the eclipse as the end process mirrors the beginning: You will again see Baily’s Beads and then a diamond ring before the entire Sun is visible.