Safely Viewing the Solar Eclipse

Don’t make the eclipse the last thing you ever see.   Looking at the sun without special eye protection can cause permanent eye damage or even blindness.   Sunglasses, even multiple pairs on top of each other, won’t do the job.

If you attempt to look directly at the sun, your eyes instinctively close to protect themselves. Using homemade filters such as negative film or smoked glass can block enough of the glare to allow your eyes to stay open at least briefly, but they don’t block the infrared rays that damage the eye – so these homemade filters are actually dangerous.   To look directly at the sun, you need special eclipse glasses (these are inexpensive and available at many locations throughout Casper) or a welder’s eye shield with a rating of 14 or higher.

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Eye protection is also essential if you are using a camera, binoculars, or telescope to observe the eclipse. These items focus and magnify the light rays they receive, so they can damage unprotected eyes even more quickly than looking directly at the sun.   A professional solar filter is required to use these items safely.

You can also view the eclipse safely by using a simple pinhole projector.   Poke a small hole in a piece of stiff cardboard, and have another piece of cardboard that is plain white.   Stand so the sun’s light is falling over your shoulder from behind you.   Hold the card with the hole in it up so the light passes through the hole, and hold the plain white piece underneath it so the light forms a dot on it. Move the two pieces closer together or farther apart until the edges of the dot are sharp and clear.   Then watch that dot … you’ll see it gradually disappear, then reappear, as the eclipse proceeds.   You can see the same effect by using anything that has a hole in it, like a kitchen colander or slotted spoon, and holding it so the light passes through the holes and makes dots on the sidewalk or ground.

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