If you have the chance to witness a solar eclipse in your lifetime, don’t pass up the opportunity. They’re quite an extraordinary experience, when the moon lines itself up just right to block out the sun and cast the Earth in brief but striking darkness. You can’t just pop outside and take in an eyeful, though. There are some safety considerations that go along with viewing a solar eclipse. Here’s how to experience this sight safely:
1. Never, ever look at a solar eclipse directly.
Sure, you might not be able to see the whole sun, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to stare at the brightest object in our sky. The only time it’s safe to look at a solar eclipse without any sort of filter is during the moments of totality, which is when the moon is completely blocking the sun and the darkness becomes even more significant. As soon as there’s even a hint of sunlight peaking back out, however, it’s time to look away.
2. Use eclipse glasses.
The best way to view an eclipse in its entirety is through the protection of eclipse glasses. These are specially designed with filters that block harmful rays and still allow you to see the brilliance of the eclipse. Some eclipse glasses allow you to watch the whole eclipse from start to finish uninterrupted, while others stipulate that you should only look in three minute increments. Check for warnings on your glasses to find out which version you have.
3. If you can, get to one of the best viewing locations.
Just as there are ideal viewing locations for meteor showers, there are also some areas that will have a better view of an eclipse. These areas are where you will see a total eclipse as opposed to a partial one. To find out where the next eclipse will pass through, look up the date and find a map showing its path. You just might be lucky enough to be living in a location that will experience 100% darkness during totality.