Solar eclipse to darken the sky over NYC Sun, moon to create ‘ring of fire

By | June 6, 2021

Almost four years ago, we were treated to the nearly total eclipse of the sun on Aug. 21, 2017. Hopefully, you acquired a set of eclipse glasses to safely view this stellar event.

Ideally, you safely stored those glasses in a cool, dry place so they could be used again. Before you put them on and look at the sun, some safety checks are in order. Look at the lenses. Are they scratched, holey, or otherwise not pristine? When you look at a bright lamp through the glasses, does any light leak through? If either of these conditions are true, dispose of the glasses properly. They are unsafe.

Solar eclipse to darken the sky over NYC Sun, moon to create ‘ring of fire

Regular sunglasses — even prescription or UV sensitive ones — are terribly dangerous for you to use for looking directly at the sun, so don’t. The only way to see this eclipse safely without the proper eyewear, is to use a pinhole projector

How to safely watch the eclipse 

It is imperative to note that it is never safe to look directly at the Sun’s rays, even if the Sun is partly or mostly obscured. NASA said that when watching a partial solar eclipse or annular solar eclipse, one must wear solar viewing or eclipse glasses throughout the entire eclipse if they want to face the Sun. “Solar viewing or eclipses glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing the Sun,” the US space agency said.

Sunglasses will not provide adequate protection from the sun’s harmful rays. No. 14 welder’s glass is safe to use. DO NOT use exposed film — if you are old enough to know what that is — of any kind. This method is not safe. In past columns on observing solar eclipses I have instructed folks on how to build a solar eclipse viewer using a shoe box. I’m not sure this observing method will efficiently work for this eclipse. With the sun so low, the resulting image may not be bright enough to project a reasonable image.

Only if you are an experienced solar observer should you attempt to observe this partial eclipse with a properly filtered telescope or by using the solar projection method. If you have never observed the sun before this event, don’t start now! Don’t risk your eyesight due to an oversight or an outright mistake. Even if you have one of those department store refractors that often come with small glass or plastic filters, do not be tempted to use them. They have been known to shatter when exposed to the sun’s concentrated image.

By far the simplest observing method will be to use those solar eclipse glasses. So if you haven’t heeded my earlier advice in prior columns to locate yours from August 2017, you still have some time to do so.

Keep your eyes to the skies, but please remember to keep them protected if you plan on viewing the partial solar eclipse of June 10.

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