Daylight will succumb to darkness—the Great American solar eclipse begins on August 21, 2017, and like the name cleverly suggests, the path of the solar eclipse drifts crosses a specific portion of the USA. Certain parts of Europe will be able to see a partial solar eclipse, however, totality is only visible to those who are located within the path of the solar eclipse.
Hey! Slow down…are you just going to grab your neon blue Oakleys and stare at the eclipse? Come on. You might be able to get away with wearing those shades when you’re swayin’ your hips on the dance floor, but when it comes to safely viewing a solar eclipse, well, my cool friend, you better keep the sexy shades at home.
Contrary to popular belief: staring at the Sun is NOT a good idea.
There are dumb ways to do things, and there are smart ways to do things. I’m not sure which way you prefer to do things, so let’s go ahead and explore 3 safe ways to observe a solar eclipse.
3 Ways To Observe A Solar Eclipse
1. Fashionable Solar Eclipse Glasses
These fancy shades were ripped straight from the future. The Star Trek-like protective film shields almost 100% of visible solar radiation. Put ’em on and enjoy the show. Well…after you pay $16.59 (shipping not included). Specialized solar eclipse glasses make you look smart, cool, fashionable, sexy—everything you dreamed of being. Hold on! Not every pair of solar eclipse glasses are the same. Low-quality glasses may not have proper certifications which proves the material is appropriate for solar observation.
If you plan on wearing solar eclipse glasses, then make sure they’re “CE” certified. Your eyes will thank you.
2. Solar Projection
It’s possible to project an image of the Sun onto a piece of paper. Aim a telescope at the Sun, place a piece of paper behind the eyepiece and presto! The image magically projects onto the paper. No need for fancy glasses, but you’ll need a fancy telescope, as well as knowing how to safely aim a telescope at the Sun. The projection method is useful for educational demonstrations, especially if you happen to own a telescope. You can also easily photograph the Sun’s projection, and then brag to your friends later on.
Use that fat noggin of yours to transform a piece of cardboard into a solar projector. No need for a telescope. Cut a itsy-bitsy hole into the center of the cardboard, and then filter the solar radiation through the hole. Project the image onto a piece of paper, just make sure your back is pointed at the Sun. Duh.
3. Glass Solar Filter
Glass solar filters are the most expensive way to safely observe the Sun. Ignore eyepiece solar filters. Do you want your eyeball hovering behind the glass when, and if, it decides to crack? Exactly. Glass solar filters should cover the telescope’s front objective lens, and there are no exceptions to this rule. None. Zero. Glass solar filters block more than 99.99% of the Sun’s light, and since these type of glass solar filters cover the telescope’s front objective lens, the eyepiece is not in danger of experiencing a catastrophic meltdown. Fun times.
The price of a glass solar filter depends on the size. Prices range between $69.99/$149.99.
Glass solar filters are specifically designed to accommodate certain telescopes. Make sure you order the correct size.
Telescopes and glass filters may seem like the way to go, however, without utilizing specialized knowledge and adhering to safe practices, then it may become the most dangerous way to look at the Sun. Think about it. Concentrated solar radiation can set innocent paper on fire, as well as other inanimate objects which never asked to be incinerated.
If you keep yourself safe and use common sense, then perhaps a telescope is, indeed, the most optimum way to observe the solar eclipse. You should put on the solar filter before aligning the telescope, or you may look through the eyepiece and discover a glaring problem—the filter wasn’t attached. Don’t let that happen.
**Great American Solar Eclipse Quick Facts **
- Date: August 21, 2017
- Earliest Time Solar Eclipse Begins: 9:05am (Salem, OR)
- Location: USA
- Partial Solar Eclipse Visibility: Some parts of Europe, North/East Asia, North/West Africa, North America, South America
- Click Here & Read More Information
If you want to use a telescope to observe the Great American solar eclipse, you’ll need to learn how to properly aim your telescope at the Sun. You can’t just look at the damn Sun and point your telescope at the blazing ball of fire. Obviously.
…You’ll have to learn how to read the telescope’s shadow. The shadow tells you if the telescope is aimed at the Sun or not, but it may take some time to learn how to read the telescope’s shadow. Wide-angle eyepieces make the process much easier. Try to use a 40mm eyepiece, or something with low-power. The goal is to make the telescope’s shadow as small as possible.
If you end-up seeing colorful stars while pointing your telescope at the Sun, then something went wrong. Stop it.
** Solar Eclipse Totality Locations **
- South Carolina
- Click Here & Read Solar Eclipse Location Map
The last American total solar eclipse occurred 17 years ago. You might be able to see cosmic history repeat itself—the Great American solar eclipse won’t last long—but the memory will last a lifetime.
Don’t let your eyeballs melt.
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