Preparing for the Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024

dark night sky with the moon passing in front of the sun (eclipse)

A solar eclipse occurs when the sun is blocked wholly or partially from view by the moon. It lasts only a few minutes, but the solar corona (the sun’s outer atmosphere) looks like a halo around the moon.  

Is it safe to look directly at the eclipse? 

It is unsafe to stare at the sun, even in a solar eclipse. Looking at the sun without protecting your eyes with solar filters, made specially for such an event, can scar your retina and may cause blindness. According to Dr. Bajic at the Cleveland Clinic, direct sunlight on the eyes causes solar retinopathy. Solar retinopathy is a permanent injury affecting the macula of the back of the eye, responsible for sharp, central vision. The result may include burning a hole or damaging the macula. Injury can consist of central blind spots, floaters, and blurriness. People who have diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts, or have had cataract surgery are at greater risk. Damage can be temporary or permanent. See an eye care specialist right away if you accidentally look at the sun and begin to have any vision issues.  

Do not view the eclipse without special filters 

If you do not have the special filters available, do not substitute with UV sunglasses, binoculars, or telescopes. According to Dr. Rachel Bishop at the National Eye Institute, to safely observe a solar eclipse without using a filter, one should face away from the sun and view a projected image instead. Utilizing tools like pinhole projectors enables the observation of a secondary image, ensuring safety while maintaining the excitement of the experience. 

Where can I find solar filters? 

Filters have to meet a worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. Check out the American Astronomical Society for information about where to get the proper eyewear or handheld viewers. 

Safely watching a solar eclipse  

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology

  • Check your solar filter glasses for scratches or damage before use. 
  • Read and heed the directions of the solar filter or eclipse glasses.  
  • Do not look at the sun before covering your eyes with eclipse glasses or a solar viewer.  
  • Do not remove the filter while looking at the sun. 
  • When the moon completely covers the sun and gets dark, you can look at it without the filter.  
  • Use the filter at once when the sun begins to reappear. 
  • Do not look at the eclipse through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other similar devices, even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer simultaneously. The rays are too intense and will harm your filter and your eyes. Talk to an astronomer first if you are interested in doing this.  

Enjoying the eclipse without usable vision  

People who are blind can enjoy a solar eclipse thanks to a device developed by students at Harvard. The LightSound device emits audio tones indicating the sun’s path as the eclipse happens. Learn more by visiting the LightSound Project website

Where is the eclipse occurring? 

The eclipse will be visible in several parts of the US. The eclipse path is 9190 miles. For more information about the path and the times, check out the following link: 2024 eclipse guide: Path of totality, times, places, and livestream (

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