How to Watch the 2024 Solar Eclipse Safely

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Need to Know from SafeWise
  • The Eastern US will be in the path of a solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. 
  • If you live in the path of the eclipse, do not watch the event directly or without safety glasses.  
  • You can purchase eclipse glasses online or find free pairs through libraries or local astronomy clubs. 

With the 2024 solar eclipse on the horizon, classrooms, scientists, and skywatchers across the US are buzzing about gearing up to witness this rare cosmic event. 

April 8's total solar eclipse will cover a wide swath of North America. While catching a solar eclipse is a memorable experience, it's crucial to remember safety for the sake of your vision.

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child watches eclipse with safety glasses

Image credit: iStock, Paola Giannoni

Where to catch the eclipse

The path of totality refers to the area where the total eclipse will be visible - where the moon completely covers the sun. While the eclipse will still be visible outside these areas, they won't get the full effect. 

This path spans from southwestern Texas, near San Antonio, through Arkansas, central Illinois, northern Indiana, upstate New York, and through New England.  

Path of 2024 solar eclipse

Image credit: iStock, PeterHermesFurian

Why is safety a big deal?

You shouldn't stare at the sun on a normal day, and that rule still applies even when the moon is out. Just like your skin, your eyes can sustain retinal burns, which can seriously damage your current and long-term vision. 

Normal sunglasses, camera lenses, and telescopes are also not enough to protect you from the sun's powerful rays. The only time you can view the eclipse unaided is during the peak of totality when the moon completely blocks the sun's light. 

How to watch the eclipse safely

You may remember some goofy glasses from 2017's solar eclipse. These special glasses are the most popular way to catch a glimpse of this stellar show. 

To view the solar eclipse safely, you'll need special glasses that meet the ISO12312-2 safety standard. These glasses filter out harmful light, such as ultraviolet, visible, and infrared. 

When picking out eclipse glasses, check that they have the ISO12312-2 certification label and give them a once-over for any damage, like scratches or holes, before putting them on. And remember to slather on some sunscreen or other sun protection since you'll be outside for a while.

Eclipse glasses ISO safety requirement

Image Credit: SafeWise, Katie McEntire

Where to get free eclipse glasses

If you can't find your eclipse glasses from 2017, don't worry; there are plenty to go around. The American Astronomical Society has a list of approved vendors where you can buy glasses. But with the eclipse around the corner, supplies may be running out, and prices may be rising. 

Instead, check out your local library, school, or community groups like local astronomy clubs to grab a pair. We found a directory of libraries across the US with glasses available. 

If you don't have eclipse glasses, there are other ways to view the eclipse safely. One option is to make a pinhole projector using a piece of paper. Just punch a small hole in the paper and hold it up to the sun, letting the sunlight pass through the hole and projecting an image of the eclipse onto the ground or another surface. This method is safe and easy, perfect for classrooms or groups.

The 2024 solar eclipse is gearing up to be a stellar event for skygazers across North America. By following these tips and using proper viewing methods, you can enjoy this jaw-dropping spectacle without risking your eyes.

Katie McEntire
Written by
Katie McEntire
As a renter, pet-owner, and woman living alone, Katie McEntire takes safety seriously. She’s tested devices like pet cameras, home security systems, and GPS trackers in her own home and devices in the name of safety. In addition to testing, writing, and reviewing for SafeWise, she also makes videos for the site’s YouTube channel. She’s been featured on publications like TechGuySmartBuy, Forbes, Healthy Moms, and Digital Care. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Technical Writing from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. She’s held previous writing positions at Overstock.com and Top Ten Reviews.

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