Watching the Eclipse Safely

Experts say don't look directly at it, rather use special glasses

Tom Puckett
August 14, 2017 - 4:00 am
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Buffalo, NY (WBEN) We're about a week away from the solar eclipse being visible around the country. Experts remind you to check it out safely.

One way to do that is to use special glasses with solar filters. "You can get them at the Buffalo and Erie County Libraries, Reinstein Woods in Cheektowaga, Penn Dixie and the Buffalo Museum of Science," says Phil Stokes of Penn Dixie. He adds some have been available at 7-11 stores as well. "One of the challenges is they've been in such high demand, the usual places have sold out, including online retailers," notes Stokes. He says the solar filters in glasses are vital. "The material blocks out over 99 percent of light. If you use solar glasses in normal conditions, you wouldn't see anything. The view is totally opaque, the only way you'd see anything is to look at the sun. If someone has mistakenly bought unsafe glasses, one way to test them out is put them on, and the only thing you should see is the sun, which would be a yellow or white circle," Stokes explains.

Looking directly at the eclipse could end up becoming a blinding experience, warns Stokes. "Your retina doesn't feel pain and so you can look at the eclipse and not feel pain at that moment. But the sun is burning your retina, and for some that can lead to vision loss,"explains Stokes. "Generally, you'll see a permanent white spot where that image was." Stokes says your regular telescope isn't safe because it would magnify the sun's rays, blinding you faster. He instead recommends a solar filter for the telescope. "Check it to make sure it's not punctured or brittle. If some light gets through it can be dangerous as well," says Stokes.

Nasa.gov has a link to a live feed to watch the eclipse, you can also go to a number of viewing locations. They include the library's central branch, Buffalo Museum of Science, and Penn Dixie in Hamburg. All locations will have telescopes with solar filters to keep you safe. 

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