Safe Solar Eclipse Viewing
photo courtesy  EAS/ SJAA/AANC
Solar eclipses bring out the daytime sky watcher in everyone. You have may have seen how surprised people are when presented with a view of the Sun. After all, we have all been told to never look at the Sun. That is very good advice, almost all of the time! However, as dedicated observers we know how to make viewing the Sun safe and enjoyable for all. 

Your #1 priority during solar viewing is to protect your eyesight! There are a few tips to always follow when observing the Sun, even during eclipses:

1. NEVER look directly at the Sun with your unshielded eyes.
2. NEVER look at the Sun with sunglasses.
3. NEVER look at the Sun through fog or clouds, or through a "shield" made from household materials. 

With that always-needed reminder out of the way, we will present a few ways you can safely observe our nearest star.

Image of people viewing the eclipse

Eclipse Shades
Look sharp when checking out the next eclipse with some cardboard solar shades! You can order them online, or you may even be able to buy them from your local museum or observatory's gift shop. You will want to double check their ratings to be certain that they are safe to use during an eclipse.

Solar Viewer
Viewers work in very much the same way as eclipse shades. Again, make sure you check their safety ratings before ordering them online.

A simple cardboard shield on the front of a telescope can make solar viewing much more comfortable.
A simple cardboard shield on the front of a telescope
makes solar observing much more comfortable. 

Glass Telescope Solar Filters
Checking out sunspots? A white light glass filter is one of your best options. Special coated glass filters attach to the ends of your telescope and offer a very nice white light view through your telescope. You can add different colored planetary filters in your eyepieces to add a touch of color or draw out certain details, such as granulation or differentiation between the umbra and penumbra in sunspots. You can also use solar film to cover the end of your telescope, but again, check their safety rating, and you must remember that any wrinkle or tear in the film renders the film unsafe to use, ever. A glass filter, while more expensive, is much more durable.

Specialized Solar Telescope

Do you want to see filaments and prominences? A hydrogen-alpha telescope is for you. They tend to be rather expensive, but do provide amazing views of the Sun's weather. Loops from flaming prominences, filaments, granulation, and more are all easily visible via these very amazing scopes. Your local astronomy club or park may offer solar observing via one of these amazing instruments, and it will be an experience you will never forget!

 Check out the NASA Eclipse Page for their map of the partial solar eclipse of October 23. Professor Andrew Fraknoi has also produced a guide for the eclipse for viewers in North America. 

Observing the sun indirectly, via projection or other methods, is also perfect for eclipses.The ASP's Linda Shore has also written up a great article on how to safely observe the eclipse using indirect methods, including projection box, the leaves of trees, and even your own fingers! Check her article out here:

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