Sign up for free

How to Watch A Solar Eclipse

how to watch a solar eclipse

On Monday 21st August the contiguous United States will be treated to a solar eclipse. Those in the path of totality will experience a total solar eclipse, during which the blue sky will temporarily turn dark as the moon covers up the disc of the sun. States outside of this path will still see partial coverage of the sun by the moon. In fact, even parts of South America, Africa and Europe will see a partial solar eclipse. See NASA’s interactive map to see the exact path of the total solar eclipse. This is a truly historic event as the last solar eclipse that went from coast to coast across America was nearly 100 years ago, back in 1918!

We’ve prepared some information for you about what a solar eclipse is and how to watch it safely.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the disc of the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and blocks part or all of the sun. In fact, this Ted Ed video by Andy Cohen does an excellent job of teaching children about solar eclipses.

A solar eclipse lasts for just minutes. During this time, the sky will become dark like night, the temperature will drop and the stars may become visible.How can i watch it safely?Whilst we all want to catch a glimpse of the eclipse, it’s really important to do so safely. It is dangerous to look at the sun at any time, even during a solar eclipse. Doing so could lead to permanent eye damage. Likewise, ordinary sunglasses aren’t enough to protect your eyes. Instead you can purchase special eclipse viewing glasses. In doing so, please ensure that they are compliant with ISO 12312-2.

Alternatively you can view the eclipse indirectly through a pinhole camera. They are quick and easy to make. In fact all you need is

  • card
  • silver foil
  • tape
  • a pin or paperclip
  1. Simply cut a square hole in your piece of cardboard.
  2. Then tape foil over the hole.
  3. Finally, poke a small hole in the foil using a pin or paperclip.
  4. Your pinhole camera is ready to use! Place a second piece of card on the ground and hold your pinhole camera with the foil facing upwards. Stand with the sun behind you and project the image onto the card below.

For full, pictorial instructions for this activity, click here to view this project on NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.

For more space activities click here. For exciting space books and apps click here. For space careers and inspiring people click here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you'd like to join our mailing list pop your email in the box below