Millions of people are expected to see The Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21. On that day, a partial eclipse will be seen in every state across the country, and a total solar eclipse will be visible across 14 states in the continental United States along the 70-mile-wide stretch of the country.
Safety Precautions When Watching The Eclipse
Amid the excitement for the upcoming celestial event, NASA wants people who plan to witness the phenomenon to observe precautions so they can watch the eclipse safely.
It has long been known that staring directly at the sun with the naked eyes can cause serious damage to the vision. The sun will be significantly dimmer during the eclipse but this does not mean it is safe to view the eclipse directly.
NASA recommends using special-purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers for those who want to see the eclipse. Unfortunately, not all glasses sold during the celestial phenomenon is safe for use.
"NASA has been alerted there are unsafe paper solar glasses being distributed," the U.S. space agency said.
What To Check When Buying Eclipse Glasses
NASA advised people to check the safety authenticity of the viewing glasses to make sure that these meet the safety viewing standards. The glasses should have ISO icon with a ISO 12312-2 reference.
People should look for the manufacturer's name and address printed on the products. NASA said that five manufacturers have so far certified their eclipse classes and handheld solar viewers to meet the standards: American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), TSE 17, and Thousand Oaks Optical.
Consumers should also stay away from glasses that are older than three years, or those with scratched or wrinkled lenses. Regular sunglasses may be used to protect the eyes from the harmful rays of the sun but these should not be used as a replacement for eclipse viewing glasses. The space agency also discouraged use of homemade filters.
"It's our duty to inform the public about safe ways to view what should be a spectacular sky show for the entire continental United States," said Alex Young, of the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Young said that people should take the responsibility to verify that they have the proper viewing glasses and more so now that the eclipse is just a month away.
"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." NASA said.