Solar Eclipse 2017: NASA issues safety warning


The much-awaited total solar eclipse is less than a month away from today, and NASA does not want you to go blind once the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth.

Astronomers warn that sunglasses aren't safe alternatives to solar shades for viewing the eclipse. Before and after totality, observers will see this cloak of darkness move towards them across the landscape.

Viewers should also purchase solar eclipse glasses, which protect eyes from the sun.

"The reason that [eclipse glasses] are important is because the sun is so insanely bright that if you were to look at it for more than a fraction of a second, you would risk serious injury to your retinas", Fienberg said. People must use special eclipse glasses.

"It's important that individuals take the responsibility to check they have the proper solar eclipse viewing glasses". These intense spots appear along the edge of the darkened disk just before totality, and again just afterward, produced by sunlight peeking through valleys along the uneven rim of the moon. NASA says glasses should be certified, have the manufacturer's name and address printed on it, not be more than three years old or have scratched lenses and not be made with homemade filters to substitute lenses on regular sunglasses.

If this is your first time viewing a solar eclipse, it's best to put down the smartphone, avoid trying to take pictures if it'll mean fiddling with filters and missing the sight ahead, and relish in this naturally attractive event, White said.

Fienberg added that looking at the digital display screen of a camera or cell phone won't harm your eyes, but it may burn out the sensor in the camera.

The almost four-hour program will include unprecedented images of the August 21 eclipse from numerous spacecraft, including the International Space Station, high-altitude aircraft and balloons, and ground observations.

It may be wise to order them sooner rather than later as some websites are expected to sell out due to the high demand for glasses.

The entire country, including Alaska and Hawaii, will be able to see the eclipse. Some public libraries will also have a small supply of glasses available.

The Washington School District will not only be in session Monday, Aug. 21, the day of the Total Solar Eclipse, but learning activities that center around the event are being developed at each building.

One of the most common ways is to make a simple device called a pinhole viewer, which can be made with a piece of paper and an empty cereal box.