Excited for eclipse? See these safety tips first to make viewing even better

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) (Wilfredo Lee, Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Much of North America is already gearing up for a historic solar eclipse on Monday, which will be the first total solar eclipse to be visible in Canada since 1979, the first in Mexico since 1991 and the first in the United States since 2017.

Travelers throughout the three countries and even the world are already making plans to be somewhere for prime viewing, and cities across the three countries are planning various festivals, activities and watch parties for the eclipse.

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But for anyone counting down the days until Monday, there are some safety tips for viewing that should be heeded. Here are some safety measures to know, according to NASA.

Make sure to wear special glasses

It’s fairly common knowledge the dangers of looking into the sun, notably permanent retina damage by doing so.

There are a few areas that will be in the path of totality for the eclipse, meaning it will be OK to look directly up at the sun for the roughly three minutes that the moon is covering the sun. However, even for those areas, it’s a good idea to have glasses.

It might be hard to fully time or know the exact moments when the moon will block out the sun or when a total eclipse will end, so it will be good to have glasses without risking starting directly at some parts of the sun.

Having special glasses is a must for the areas that won’t be in the path of totality, but rather experience partial phases of the eclipse.

To best view the eclipse, DO NOT use regular sunglasses. Purchasing special solar viewing glasses or “eclipse” glasses is the way to go. For a list of eclipse glasses to purchase, click or tap here.

Don’t look at the sun through any optical device with solar viewers or glasses on

Cameras, binoculars and telescopes require different types of solar filters, so don’t use glasses or handheld viewers with those.

It can be harmful to look directly at the sun through a camera lens, telescope or binoculars, or other optical devices while wearing eclipse glasses or using a handheld solar viewer because the concentrated solar rays will burn through the filter and cause injury to the eyes.

If you are without eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer, there is an indirect viewing method that can be done without looking directly at the sun. A pinhole projector has a small opening that projects an image of the sun onto a nearby surface (one example example can be a hole punched in an index card). The projected image can be viewed with the sun at your back. Don’t look at the sun through the pinhole.

Make sure optical devices have proper solar filters

The eclipse can be viewed through cameras, binoculars or telescopes, as long as they are equipped with the proper solar filters, which essentially makes them work the same as glasses. If that’s the case, the eclipse can be viewed on those devices without glasses.

Seek advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.

Make sure skin is protected

It’s been a warmer winter than usual, and if that trend continues into the start of spring and on the day of the eclipse, it might be necessary to protect the skin in warmer parts of the country.

The sun will still be bright despite the eclipse, so use of a hat, sunscreen or protective clothing is recommended.

About the Author

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.

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