How and When to Watch the Total Solar Eclipse without Burning Your Retinas

There’s going to be a solar eclipse on August 21 and that’s a big deal. They don’t happen all that often and when they do, they’re visible from only a small bit of Earth. Joss Fong elaborates on that in the video for Vox above.

The next total solar eclipse to visit the US will be in 2024. If an eclipse happens to come to your town, you’re lucky. Any given location will see a total solar eclipse only once in more than 300 years, on average. The vast majority of us will have to travel to an eclipse path if we want to see a total eclipse in our lifetimes.

It’s probably too late to book a hotel in the path of totality (where the moon’s shadow will totally block out the sun.) But don’t fret. The eclipse will still be stunning from anywhere in the US—even Alaska and Hawaii. Want a preview of what you will see from your home? There’s a nifty tool available over at Vox to do just that. This is what I’ll be seeing in Denver and when I can expect to see it:

If you plan to watch the eclipse be sure to pick up a quality set of solar observation glasses, don’t blindly trust companies selling solar glasses on Amazon—that’s a sure way to end up with some burnt retinas. Look for a set of ISO 12312-2 compliant glasses like this set from Celestron.

If you want to photograph the eclipse there are some preparations you should make for that as well—you can blow out your camera’s sensor and your retinas all at once if you don’t do things right. After all, camera’s and their lenses magnify things before delivering the image to the sensor and your eye.


It’s best not to stare at the sun during an eclipse. – Jeff Goldblum



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