Total Solar Eclipse 2024: How to watch the rare celestial event safely, avoid fake glasses in US - Hindustan Times
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Total Solar Eclipse 2024: How to watch the rare celestial event safely, avoid fake glasses in US

ByArya Vaishnavi
Apr 02, 2024 02:02 PM IST

To avoid permanent damage to your eyes, you should view the partial eclipse phases only through protective glasses or hand-held solar viewers.

With March coming to a close, skygazers are gearing up for April's rare celestial event. Millions across the North American continent will be able to witness a total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. The rarity of the event is such that it last occurred it last occurred in 2017. What makes 2024's total solar eclipse special is its path of totality spanning 115 miles across the US, Canada, and Mexico. While the excitement for the rare event is inevitable, it is important to know how to safely watch the eclipse without damaging your eyes.

While the excitement for the rare event is inevitable, it is important to know how to safely watch the eclipse without damaging your eyes.(REUTERS)
While the excitement for the rare event is inevitable, it is important to know how to safely watch the eclipse without damaging your eyes.(REUTERS)

How to watch the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse safely?

Since the next total solar eclipse will happen in 2044, April's rare event is not to be missed. However, skygazers must carry out the necessary precautions to avoid temporary or permanent eye damage. The best and safest method to watch the eclipse is by wearing special eclipse glasses that protect your eyes.

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Always wear protective eclipse glasses

According to NASA, the only safe moment to watch the eclipse with the naked eye is “when the moon completely obscures the sun’s bright face — during the brief and spectacular period known as totality.” However, as totality is only for a brief moment, it is important to take ample time to make sure it is safe to take off your glasses. “You’ll know it’s safe when you can no longer see any part of the sun through eclipse glasses or a solar viewer.”

Chris Hartenstine from NASA's Glenn Research Centre in Ohio says, “When you’re wearing the eclipse glasses, and you look up at the sun, you will, even on the slightest sliver, you will see the glow of the sun on the edge of that disc,” adding, “When that is completely out, give yourself another couple of seconds and then you can take them off.”

Sunglasses or polarized glasses are unsafe

The American Optometric Association said in a statement, “Sunglasses, smoked glass, unfiltered telescopes or magnifiers, and polarizing filters are unsafe. Inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer before use — if torn, scratched, or otherwise damaged, discard the device.”

Rick Fienberg, the project manager of the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force, said in a statement, “Solar filters are at least 1,000 times darker than even the darkest regular sunglasses.”

NASA issues warning

To avoid permanent damage to your eyes, you should view the partial eclipse phases only through protective glasses or hand-held solar viewers. NASA warns that “viewing any part of the bright sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury.”

Avoid fake eclipse glasses

With the eclipse craze creating an excessive demand for protective glasses, cheap and fake products have also made their way to the market. Before buying eclipse glasses, you should ensure that they are authentic and safe.

“Until recently, the only counterfeit products we knew of were cardboard-frame eclipse glasses made by an unidentified factory in China but printed with ‘Mfg. by: American Paper Optics’ (APO) on them,” the AAS added.

“APO is one of the major U.S. manufacturers of safe solar viewers and prints its name and address on its eclipse glasses, whereas the Chinese copycat products have APO’s name but not its address. Thankfully, these particular counterfeits appear to be safe,” the statement continues.

AAS further notes, “We now recommend that if you want to buy solar viewers online, buy only from sites you reach by clicking on the links from our list, or from a seller whose identity you can verify and whose name appears on our list.”

“The U.S. space agency doesn’t approve or endorse commercial products, so any claim to the contrary is a warning sign that you’re not dealing with a trustworthy seller. Similarly, if a vendor claims to be on the AAS suppliers list but you can’t find it there, you shouldn’t trust them,” the statement adds.

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