Practice sun safety during the solar eclipse
Posted on 08.18.2017, Friday

On Monday, August 21st, the entire continental U.S. will experience a solar eclipse! It will be the first time in 99 years that a total solar eclipse can be viewed coast-to-coast across the United States. But viewing next week’s solar eclipse without proper eye protection can result in permanent eye damage.

It’s important to follow sun safety even during an eclipse!

A small portion of Western North Carolina is included in the path of totality of the eclipse, beginning at 2:33 p.m. The rest of the state will experience a partial eclipse. Here in Durham, the partial eclipse will begin around 1:15 pm, with the maximum point occurring at 2:43 pm.


The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and Division of Child Development and Early Education encourage people who plan to view Monday’s solar eclipse to use proper eye protection and take steps to reduce the risk of heat-related illness. This is important advice for both children and adults.

Even though the moon is passing in front of the sun from Earth’s perspective, the sun is still incredibly bright, and looking directly at it can damage any skywatcher’s eyesight. Because there are no pain receptors in the retina of your eye, you can damage your eyes without even knowing it is happening. Damage from viewing the eclipse without proper eye protection may not be noticeable right away, but could make seeing difficult the next day and may result in long-term or permanent eye damage.

Safety Tips

  • Do not look directly at the sun, including during an eclipse, without proper eye protection.
    Eclipse viewing glasses and handheld solar viewers should:

    • Have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 international standard
    • Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
    • Not be used if they are older than three years or have scratched or wrinkled lenses
    • Sunglasses cannot be used in place of solar viewing glasses.
  • You can safely view the progress of a solar eclipse using a pinhole camera.
  • You can also safely watch the eclipse via live stream television.
  • NASA recommends avoiding homemade filters. NEVER look at the sun through binoculars, a telescope or a camera lens without a solar filter, or using a homemade filter — the magnified light can damage your eyes faster than looking at the sun unaided.
  • The American Astronomical Society has a list of suggested vendors of solar eclipse filters and viewers here:

If you are interested in learning more and viewing the eclipse, you can also check out family-friendly eclipse viewing parties at the Museum of Life and Science, Durham County Library, and Duke Gardens.

Have fun and be safe experiencing this rare event!

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