How to view a solar eclipse safely

In this photo provided by Tourism Queensland, the moment of a total solar eclipse is observed at Cape Tribulation in Queensland state, Australia, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012. Starting just after dawn, the eclipse cast its 150-kilometer (95-mile) shadow in Australia's Northern Territory, crossed the northeast tip of the country and was swooping east across the South Pacific, where no islands are in its direct path. (AP Photo/Tourism Queensland)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible across all of North America and pass right over areas like the Smoky Mountain National Park. Anyone within a roughly 70-mile-wide path from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse when the moon blocks the sun for up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

The total solar eclipse will enter Tennessee at 1:25 p.m. Central Time and leave at 2:35 p.m. Eastern Time. Weather permitting, it will be visible in areas like the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Oak Ridge.

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total eclipse when the moon entirely blocks the sun. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses.” Also, taking a photo using a phone or camera could damage your lense if you don’t have the correct filter.

Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses are not safe for looking at the sun. According to NASA, there are four eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers that meet the international standards. They are:

Other ways to view the solar eclipse

Welder’s Glass

According to NASA one widely available filter for safe solar viewing is number 14 welder’s glass. These are available at a welding supply store. NASA says it is imperative that the welding hood houses a #14 or darker filter.

No matter what, do not use “filters” such as smoked glass, stacked sunglasses, polarized filters, camera filters, candy wrappers or compact discs. They might reduce the sun’s glare, but can still damage your eyes.

Telescopes with solar filters

Eclipses are best viewed when they are magnified, which means a telescope with a solar filter or solar telescopes. These will give you a magnified view that will clearly show the progress of an eclipse.

Never look through a telescope with a solar filter on the large end of the scope. Never use small solar filters that attach to the eyepiece, which is sometimes found in some older or cheaper telescopes.

Pinhole Projector

Pinhole projectors and other projection techniques are a safe, indirect view of the sun.

The simplest and quickest way to safely project the sun is with a projector made from only two pieces of card or paper. Cut a square hole in the middle of one of your pieces of card stock.

(NASA)

Tape foil over the hole.

(NASA)

Take a thumbtack and make a tiny hole in the middle of the aluminum foil.

Place the second sheet of paper on the ground. With you back towards the sun, hold one piece of paper above your shoulder allowing the sun to shine on the paper.

The second sheet of paper will act as a screen. Hold it at a distance and you will see an inverted image of the sun projected on the paper screen through the pinhole. To make the image of the sun larger, hold the screen paper further away from the pinhole.

 

You can also build a box project, which works on similar principals and is just a bit sturdier.

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