Eclipse: How to Watch
Posted: July 1, 2017
Are you going to become an eclipse-chaser this summer? If so, you won’t be alone. People from all over are scrambling to experience the event—even from faraway places like France, Italy, and Japan. At hotels in the eclipse’s path, the phone started ringing off the wall years ago! If you call one of these places today, you will probably hear, “Sorry. No room!”
But here’s some good news. If you live in the continental United States (not Hawaii or U.S. territories), at least a partial eclipse will be visible in your state. In a partial solar eclipse, it looks like the Moon took a bite out of the Sun. But the Moon never covers the Sun all the way. Whichever eclipse you see this summer, here are some tips for viewing it:
Eclipses work with weather. This summer’s eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event. But a cloudy sky could block it out. (If you can’t see the Sun, you can’t see the eclipse!) People have made big plans. But they are still waiting and wondering about the weather.
Guard your eyes. “Don’t look straight into the Sun!” That is very good advice. Staring at the Sun can cause eye damage and blindness. Your eye’s retina has no pain receptors. It can become scorched without you even feeling it happen! It’s okay to look at a total solar eclipse with the naked eye though—as long as you do so only during the two minutes the Sun is covered completely by the Moon. To look at a partial eclipse, you will need specially-designed solar glasses. These have lenses many times darker than the lenses in sunglasses. You can also safely view the eclipse through something called a pinhole camera. You can make a pinhole camera at home. You will need a long box, tin foil, tape, and a pin or needle.
Notice bright stars and planets. While you watch the eclipse, don’t forget to check for planets in the sky. About 15 to 30 minutes before the total eclipse, you will start to see Venus appear to the west of the Sun. About 30 seconds before and after the total eclipse, Mars will be visible to the west of the Sun too. It will look like an orange star. You’ll see Jupiter to the southeast of the eclipse. On the east side, you’ll see Mercury.