This weekend, the West Coast of the United States and Canada are in prime viewing position for an annual eclipse of the Sun. Any eclipse can be an amazing sight, but only if you take proper precautions to protect your vision from the dangerous rays of the Sun.
Proper eyewear has special filters expressly designed for viewing the Sun and can be found at some science and astronomy stores and online. An alternative is to purchase a piece of number 14 welder’s glass from a welding supply store. Sunglasses are not acceptable. Without protection, your eyes can be permanently damaged by looking, even for a fraction of a second, at any solar eclipse. Telescopes and binoculars must be outfitted with special filters before they can be safely used. Several tricks can be employed to see an eclipse indirectly: Use a small mirror, like a makeup mirror, and with masking tape cover all but a 1/2” square in the center of the mirror. Then hold the mirror at an angle and project the Sun onto a shaded wall or into a garage. Also, you can create a simple version of what’s called a pinhole camera. Start with two pieces of white paper. Poke a small hole in one with a pencil or a pen. Let sunlight shine through that hole and fall onto the second piece of paper, held a foot or two below the first and in the first’s shadow.