Safety tips for solar eclipse viewing


Today (Monday, April 8), there will be a total solar eclipse for several minutes in some parts of southern Ontario. Making direct eye contact with the sun at this time without proper protection can cause permanent eye damage. 

In order to view the eclipse safely, everyone must wear safe solar viewing glasses or a safe handheld solar viewer. Regular sunglasses will not protect you, no matter how dark they are. According to NASA, safe solar viewers are thousands of times darker and comply with the international standard. NASA does not approve any particular brand of solar viewers. 

It is important to inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use. If torn, scratched, or damaged, discard the device. You should always supervise children using solar viewers. You should not look at the sun through a camera lens, telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using a handheld solar viewer or eclipse glasses — the concentrated solar rays can burn through the filter and cause serious eye injury. 

If you are unable to get eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer, you can use the indirect viewing method, which involves not looking at the sun directly. Another method would be making your own eclipse projector using a cardboard box, a white sheet of paper, tape, scissors, and aluminum foil. Since the sun is behind you, the sunlight will stream through a pinhole punched into aluminum foil taped over a hole in one side of the box. During the partial phases of solar eclipse, this will project a crescent sun onto a white sheet of paper taped to the inside of the box. You will have to look into the box through another hole cut into the box to see the projected image. 

The only time you can view the eclipse without proper eye protection is when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face. As soon as you can see a little bit of the sun reappear, put your eclipse glasses back on or use a handheld solar viewer to look at the sun. 

Eclipse glasses can be purchased through the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, KW Telescope, or Amazon.