Safety

Demonstrate an understanding of how the Sun can be observed safely by amateur astronomers

Don't ever look directly at the Sun through a telescope unless you have the proper filters. If you do then you will be permanently blinded. The retina does not produce pain signals and you may have no idea that damage is taking place until later. DO NOT RISK IT.

Looking at the Sun will damage your eyes and they will deteriorate.

Some DON’TS

Never use these to view the Sun:

  • Binoculars
  • Reading glasses
  • Telescopes
  • Sunglasses
  • Scratched or broken solar filters or shades
  • Camera film
  • Lenses
  • Smoked glass

Some Dos

We recommend an adult supervises you if you are involved in daytime observation, preferably one who has conducted such observations before.

The easiest way to observe the Sun safely is by projecting its image onto paper or card. A small hole can be put in a card and the light projected onto paper. The outline of the Sun can then be seen. Never leave this unattended as the Sun is a powerful source of heat and may combust your materials. Some projection tools include the Sunspotter or Solarscope which make it easier to do this.

Telescopes with special solar filters can be used to project the Sun. Great care must be used as the Sun can crack these tools.

Some specialist retailers offer special solar shades that contain a protective coating allowing the Sun to be viewed. However these should not be scratched in any way and the shades should conform to the highest quality.

A popular method is to buy the strongest welder’s glasses on sale. These are Number 14. The Sun appears green when wearing these, and they are considered to be safe as long as they are in good condition. 

The Moon is safe to view except when it is near the Sun in the daytime and also just before and after a total solar eclipse. Annular eclipses are NOT safe to view.

 


Links New Window

Stanford University Range of techniques for observing the Sun safely

Eclipse.org (PPARC) Simple projection method

Canadian Astronomy Education Observing the Sun Safely

Exploratorium - Eclipse How to make a Pinhole Projector

WARNING

Never look directly at the Sun with a telescope or binoculars

Question

It is unsafe to directly observe the Sun with the naked eye, telescope or binoculars. What is the safest method to observe the Sun?