What You Need to Know Before Viewing the Solar Eclipse

Washington will be treated to a rare, partial solar eclipse on Monday, August 21 at 10:20 a.m., starting at 9:08 a.m.

This magnificent astrological event is not only beautiful but also potentially dangerous. As a Portland Oregon resident warns, viewing the sun without proper precautions can cause serious and irreparable damage to your vision. Because of this risk, NASA has issued safety instructions on how to view the partial solar eclipse properly.

Important Solar Eclipse Safety Tips from NASA.org

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality.

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” (example shown at left) or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight. Refer to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers page for a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products.

  • Outside the path of totality (Washington state), you must always use a safe solar filter compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard to view the sun directly.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or even partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
Safety information and graphics provided by nasa.gov. Please visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety for more information.