Viewing the 2024 Solar Eclipse Safely

A rare celestial event is coming April 8. The moon will pass between the earth and the sun, blocking light from reaching earth and producing a solar eclipse that will be visible from Arizona to Maine.

It’s the second total solar eclipse that has been viewable in the U.S. in less than 10 years, and if you want to experience the full effect of the phenomena live, you won’t get another chance until 2044 without traveling overseas.

In the narrow path of totality (where the sun is completely blocked for a few minutes), night falls. Temperatures drop. Birds stop singing. Only the sun’s corona peeks out from behind the moon. If there’s no cloud cover, it’s an eerie thing to witness.

In ancient times, people saw total eclipses as bewildering portents of doom. Chinese civilizations proposed that a dragon had eaten the sun, while the Inca thought that the gods were expressing their displeasure and must be appeased. Modern science has dispelled such beliefs.

One thing we know for certain: Viewers must not look directly at the sun during the eclipse. Except for the few minutes of totality, you’ll need to wear solar viewing glasses to see the sun during its partial eclipse phase or risk severe eye damage.

You can also use an indirect method to view the eclipse by allowing the sun to project itself on a surface. These methods include a pinhole camera, a “sun funnel,” or options as simple as a kitchen colander or interlaced fingers.

If you are among the up to 4 million who travel to view totality this year, you’re in for an experience. Be forewarned that traffic could be bad on the return trip. Following the eclipse of 2017, people who drove to rural areas in the path of totality faced return commutes more than two-and-a-half times as long, USA Today says.

If you can’t see totality in person, you’ll likely still be able to step outside to view a partial solar eclipse — and you can live-stream the eclipse as it happens with NASA and other sites on your screens without the need for protective glasses. Check it out – it’s a rare event that might inspire your awe.