April 03, 2024

How to Safely View the April 8 Solar Eclipse

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks any part of the sun. On Monday, April 8, 2024, a solar eclipse will be visible in North and Central America, as well as parts of Europe and South America. All 50 U.S. states (excluding most of Alaska) will have a chance to see at least a partial solar eclipse. 

In Cambridge, the partial eclipse will begin a little after 2 p.m. on Monday, April 8 and last until about 4:30 p.m.

Safety is the number one priority when viewing a solar eclipse. Looking directly at the sun during an eclipse without proper eye protection can damage your eyes.

Protect Your Eyes:

  • Do NOT look directly at the sun without proper eye protection. 
  • During an eclipse, it is safe to look directly at the sun ONLY through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or a handheld viewer. 
  • You can pick up eclipse viewing glasses at Cambridge Public Library branches while supplies last.
  • Eclipse glasses are NOT regular sunglasses. Regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, are not safe for looking at the sun. 
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them or hold your handheld viewer in front of them. 
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter –  do not remove it while looking at the sun. 
  • Do NOT view the sun through a camera lens, binoculars or a telescope, even while wearing eclipse glasses. Using any of these tools can be dangerous because they can increase damage to your eyes by acting as a magnifying glass for the sun’s rays. Viewing the sun through any of these lenses without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the lens can cause severe eye injury.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters. 

What If You Don’t Have a Safe Solar Filter or Viewer? 

Another method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed Sun is indirectly using a pinhole projector, which has a small opening (for example, a hole punched in an index card) and projects an image of the Sun onto a nearby surface. With the sun at your back, you can then safely view the projected image. Do NOT look at the sun through the pinhole! The American Astronomical Society has additional tips for indirect viewing of an eclipse. (Please note that in Cambridge we will not experience a total solar eclipse, so there will not be an opportunity to view the eclipse safely with your eyes unprotected.)

For more information about the eclipse, visit NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) website. NASA will also be broadcasting the solar eclipse live on Monday. 

More information about eye safety and the types of solar filters that make it safe to view the eclipse can also be found on the American Astronomical Society (AAS) website.