Amateur astronomer offers tips for viewing eclipse
Amateur astronomer Scott Miller offers advice to those planning to view the total solar eclipse Aug. 21:
"As the eclipse date gets nearer, many people will want to observe it," he said. "However, it is very dangerous to look directly at the sun, and even though the light will be reduced as the eclipse progresses, even a small sliver of the sun being directly visible is enough to damage your eyes permanently.
"There are numerous websites that offer solar eclipse glasses. Sites such as Amazon, Walmart and others are selling these at reasonable prices. Other stores such as Target are likely to have some also."
According to Miller, the cheap paper-framed solar-eclipse glasses that come in groups of 10, 12 or more are adequate to use to look directly at the sun during an eclipse if people carefully look directly at it and avoid the light entering the sides of the glasses.
"If you can get bigger, fuller-framed solar eyeglasses that cover more of your eye area, I would recommend those instead," he said. "For those who want to use cameras or binoculars, I recommend they buy solar-filter film from sites that carry either Thousand Oaks Optical products or Baader Astrosolar products.
"They also carry harder glass filters and camera-lens filters that are more permanent and already made. However, it is getting late in the game, and many products are getting harder to find. If you want to buy them, better order soon."
Miller went on to explain that when the eclipse reaches its maximum (for those in the area of totality), people can remove their safety glasses for the one to two minutes when it is darkest.
"The filters cut the sunlight down by a factor of 100,000 to 1, and you cannot see the ring of fire with the filters on," he said. "Then you will need to use them again as soon as the sun starts to appear.
"If you do want to use the solar film to cover binoculars or a camera lens, it is important that you put the film in front of your lenses. Film filters are just plastic, and the concentrated sun focused at the rear or viewing side of any system will be extremely hot. It is likely that it will melt the film and then possibly harm your eye or camera."
Miller advises everyone to be careful. "Let's hope that the Oregon weather cooperates and that we are all able to see this rare eclipse fully," he said. "And good luck wherever and however you plan to watch!"