Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun.

Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.

Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.

NASA created this website to provide a guide to this amazing event. Here you will find activities, events, broadcasts, and resources from NASA and its partners across the nation.

Americans must use special eclipse viewers to protect their eyes from the sun’s harmful rays at all times.

Captain Tyson Brunstetter, O.D., Ph.D., a U.S. Navy optometrist working with astronauts at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, says the single greatest risk to viewing a solar eclipse comes from low energy radiation that passes through the eye and onto the retina. This solar retinopathy causes damage to the fovea and can cost people their visual acuity.   

“Think about how a spectacle lens can be used to tightly concentrate sunlight to start a fire-or to burn ants,” Dr. Brunstetter says. “The same thing happens when viewing the sun with the naked eye, except instead of a leaf or ant receiving the burn, it’s your retina.”

Here are four ways to safely view a solar eclipse:

  1. Use approved solar eclipse viewers. The only safe way to view a partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or viewers that meet international standard ISO 12312-2 for safe viewing. Sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters are unsafe. If you can’t find eclipse viewers, build a pinhole projector to watch the eclipse.
  2. Technique of the pros. Before looking at the sun, cover your eyes with the eclipse viewers while standing still. Glance at the sun, turn away and then remove your filter. Do not remove the filter while looking at the sun.
  3. Totality awesome. Only within the path of totality-and once the moon completely blocks the sun-can eclipse viewers safely be removed to view totality. Once the sun begins reappearing, however, viewers must be replaced.
  4. Visit your doctor of optometry. If you should experience discomfort or vision problems following the eclipse, visit your local doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye examination.