When a Wolf Swallows the Sun (The Solar Eclipse)

Chances are you’re just as excited as we are for the Total Solar Eclipse coming up on Monday, August 21st.  So, here’s some handy science knowledge to help you make the most of the experience:

How does an eclipse happen?

Here’s a super zoomed out visual of what will be happening in space during Monday’s total solar eclipse.

How should I watch the eclipse?

First of all: DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN.  

Except if you’re in the path of totality. Then you can look at the sun, with your naked eyeballs, for 120-ish seconds the sun is completely eclipsed.  At all times and in all other places,  you need special eclipse glasses. Regular sunglasses, even really dark ones, let thousands of times too much sunlight into our eyes, which can cause serious damage. 

Also, don’t look at the sun through binoculars, a camera, or your phone, EVEN when you have the glasses on. Apparently the concentration of sunlight through a lens can damage your glasses and your eyes. This recommendation comes directly from NASA, so you have to do it.

If you can’t get a hold of eclipse glasses, you can still participate in this historic event by crafting some sort of pinhole projection device. We prefer the tried and true shoe box device we all made in grade-school. Here’s a link to some DIY instructions. With a pinhole projector, you face away from the sun, and watch the shape of a circle of light become a crescent as the eclipse happens.

But again, if you’re in the path of totality, where the body of the sun will be completely blocked out at the time of eclipse, go ahead and take off the glasses (for the duration of total eclipse only! 2.5 minutes if you’re in the center of the path of totality, less if you’re anywhere else in the path.)  Fully experience how the colors of your surroundings change, how the stars come out, just how incredibly weird the world is during a solar eclipse. But of course, before even a sliver of the sun is visible again, make sure your glasses are back on if you’re gonna look up.