Ophthalmologists and astronomers across the country continue to warn curious Americans not to watch the solar eclipse without special glasses from NASA.
The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partly eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses from NASA. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses will not work; you will burn your retinas.
Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham has 1,000 pairs ready for use by those who sign waivers at the library’s eclipse-watching event Monday. Librarian Deborah Knight says she doesn’t care if attendees remain for five minutes or five hours, as long as they are there long enough to be briefed on how to use the glasses and to sign waivers absolving the library of liability in case of misuse.
The library’s eclipse celebration will begin at 10 a.m. with a showing of the film “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.” Afterward — at about 12:15 or so — will follow a safety demonstration for those who wish to view the eclipse. The presentation will cover when to wear a pair of NASA-approved glasses and when to take them off safely.
At 1 p.m., glasses will become available, but only to those who have signed waivers.
If you attend Monday’s event, take your time to read the instructions for the glasses, and make sure to supervise children strictly.
If you already have NASA-approved solar glasses and will watch the eclipse somewhere other than at the library, inspect the glasses before Monday. Read the instructions for use. Throw away the glasses if they’re scatched or damaged in any other way.
When you’re ready to use them, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove the glasses; do not remove them while looking at the sun.
Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device even if you have solar glasses. The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eyes, causing serious injury.
If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them. No glasses? Make a projection viewer with your hands: Cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at the shadow of your hands on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse.
Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the eclipse. You’ll see the ground dappled with crescent suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.
Lowe’s building-supply store also has an old-school method that uses a cereal box and some tinfoil. Here are the instructions:
1. Put a piece of white card stock on the table and place the cereal box on top. Trace the bottom of the cereal box and cut the piece of card stock.
2. Tape the cut card stock to the inside bottom of the cereal box.
3. Cut two rectangles on the left side and the right side of the cereal box opening, leaving the middle intact.
4. Tape a piece of aluminum foil over one opening on the top. Then use the needle to poke a smooth hole in the middle of the foil.
5. When the eclipse occurs, turn your back to the sun. Look through the hole in the foil to see a projected image of the eclipse.
Sources: NASA, Lowe’s