Few occurrences in nature can rival the jaw-dropping beauty of a solar eclipse. Solar eclipses should not be missed, but they should also not be viewed without the proper safety measures in mind. Here’s a guide on how to watch a solar eclipse from the experts here at Rainbow Symphony:
1. Protect Your Eyes
There are a number of ways to enjoy a solar eclipse (and we’ll get into those here), but the most important thing to remember is that you cannot view an eclipse without the proper equipment to protect your eyes. Watching a solar eclipse can cause irreparable damage to your vision if you are not wearing solar eclipse viewing glasses.
A solar eclipse will give off a hazardous amount of visible light along with harmful levels of ultraviolet and infrared waves. Before totality, the sun’s brilliant solar surface emerges, which can cause severe retinal damage. While our natural instinct would be to look away at this point, serious damage can occur in a matter of seconds. Simply put, there is no justification for viewing an eclipse without the proper protection for your eyes.
Fortunately, solar eclipse glasses are largely inexpensive, though not all of them are made equally. It’s imperative to only use solar eclipse viewing glasses that meet ISO (International Organization for Standardization) protocols. Lesser glasses cannot be counted upon to give you the proper safeguards against harmful rays, which could lead to a lifetime of unfortunate consequences.
All of the Eclipse Shades® sold by Rainbow Symphony meet ISO 12312-2 standards, meaning that you can view the marvel of a solar eclipse with complete peace of mind. The lenses of these specialty solar viewers are made from a patented scratch-resistant material with grade five optical density to guarantee ultimate protection from harmful solar radiation.
The lenses of the solar eclipse viewing glasses contain “Black Polymer,” a flexible resin infused with carbon particles, to filter out 99.999% of intense visible light and 100% of ultraviolet light and infrared light. The premium filters display an orange-colored image of the sun for the viewer that is both easier to see and sharper than the unfiltered view. Our dedication to quality ensures a safe and worry-free solar eclipse experience that will be remembered for a lifetime.
Our complete line includes a wide range of styles, designed to fit eclipse-chasers of any group or budget size. For a smaller bunch –– or one that is willing to share, we offer Plastic Eclipse Glasses in both traditional and wrap-around goggle variations. For a less expensive alternative, educators may want to look into our Eclipse Shades® Safe Solar Glasses. There are innumerable options to choose from the Rainbow Symphony website, starting as low as $0.45 per piece for large bulk orders.
Demand for glasses tends to spike in the days leading up to a solar eclipse, so be sure to stock up well in advance.
2. Find The Best Place To View The Eclipse
Solar eclipses don’t happen all that often and total solar eclipses are exceptionally rare. To take in this unique experience, you’ll want to view the eclipse from the best location possible.
In some instances, that may mean traveling. In July of 2019, a total solar eclipse will take place in the southern Pacific Ocean, just north of the Pitcairn Islands. Before the eclipse hits, locals and tourists will flock to Chile, Argentina, as well as ships in the nearby waters. Then, in December of 2020, another solar eclipse will return to the area around South America with visibility from select portions of Argentina and Chile. After that, there will be a total solar eclipse in Antarctica (good luck to those hoping to see that one) and a hybrid eclipse occuring in Indonesia and a tiny portion of Australia.
For those of you in North America who aren’t planning on traveling across the world for a total eclipse, we have wonderful news. On April 8, 2024, there will be a total eclipse crossing Mexico, several states stretching from Texas to Maine, and into eastern Canada. The expected duration is roughly four and a half minutes, which is longer than many total solar eclipses that we’ve seen in the past.
Of course, making the appropriate travel plans (if needed) and finding the best possible place for viewing is paramount when considering how to watch a solar eclipse. The quality of your eclipse viewing experience may vary from state to state, but there are other factors to keep in mind.
Ideally, you’ll want to view the eclipse where the width of the moon’s shadow is widest and the altitude of the sun in the sky is at or near its peak. That combination will help to provide the longest duration of totality possible. Those extra seconds made all the difference in 2017 for some as the eclipse’s longest run clocked in at about two minutes and forty seconds.
It's also wise to avoid areas with excessive light pollution. By looking at nighttime satellite images of specific areas, you can quickly determine which towns and cities give off the most light.
Locations with higher altitude can also provide better views of the shadow’s path. Being at higher altitude may also provide the advantage of being above valley fog, low clouds, or other air pollution. If a mountain location is a viable option, it’s something for eclipse chasers to heavily consider.
3. Pack A Lunch!
If you’re planning on viewing the eclipse from a more rustic locale, you’ll want to be well-stocked on the essentials. Obviously, that includes water and food for short-term visits and toiletries and other camping essentials for longer trips. You’re unlikely to find a hot dog or pretzel vendor nearby if you’re viewing the solar eclipse from high atop a mountain.
However, if you’re fortunate enough to view the eclipse from the comfort of your backyard, near your workplace, or your school’s blacktop, then you probably won’t need much more than solar eclipse viewing glasses and/or solar viewers.
4. Teach Your Kids Or Students About Eclipse Basics
Younger children might not fully realize the dangers of viewing an eclipse without solar eclipse viewing glasses, meaning that parents and educators must emphasize the risks involved and the proper protocol required. Of course, this doesn’t need to be entirely tedious or boring.
Moms, dads, and teachers can prepare students for the eclipse with fun lessons in the days leading up to it. For example, you can create your own “eclipse” at home or in the classroom. All you need is a flashlight in the dark and some props from Phys. Ed class or the garage, such a tennis ball and volleyball to represent the Earth, Sun, and Moon. This way, you can teach kids about the basic mechanics of the eclipse while underscoring the importance of eclipse glasses and other safety measures.
5. For An Extra-Special View, Pick Up The Proper Telescope
Quality telescopes tend to be expensive, but there are exceptions. The Galileoscope™, which was developed by a team of leading optical engineers, astronomers, and science educators, offers tremendous capability at a phenomenally affordable price. This telescope kit is easy to assemble and offers value for students and stargazers even beyond the solar eclipse.
Powered by a 25- to 50-power achromatic refractor, The Galileoscope™ allows for viewing of lunar craters and mountains, the four moons circling Jupiter, Saturn's rings, the phases of Venus, and incalculable stars that are impossible to view with the naked eye.
The Final Step: Relax And Enjoy!
Now that you know how to watch a solar eclipse, all that’s left to do is to sit back and marvel at one of nature’s most spectacular phenomenons. The dangers of viewing an eclipse without the proper safety measures may seem alarming, but there’s nothing to fear with the proper equipment in tow.
The temptation to take the perfect picture of the eclipse and share it on social media may be tempting, but it’s important to remember that there will be scores of other people - including professionals - also photographing the event. Instead of missing out on this miraculous occurrence, you would be well served to sit back and enjoy the moment. After all, the memory of this rare occasion will stay with you for a lifetime.
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Have a question about how to watch a solar eclipse or which style of solar eclipse viewing glasses is right for you? Contact the Rainbow Symphony customer service team by phone today at 818-708-8400, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org