How to View the Sun
You've probably heard that you shouldn't look at the sun directly. This warning is absolutely justified, as viewing the sun with your naked eyes can permanently damage your eyesight. If you want to watch an eclipse or other solar phenomena, you can do so safely by constructing a pinhole projector, using a solar viewer, or attaching a solar filter to a telescope.
Constructing a Pinhole Projector with Paper
Find two pieces of stiff paper for your pinhole projector.One of the safest and simplest ways to view a solar eclipse is to project the image of the sun through a small hole in a piece of paper. The resulting image is small, but the shape of the sun can be seen clearly, and your eyes are protected because you are not looking in the direction of the sun.
Punch a very small hole in the center of the first sheet of paper.Use a pin or other small, sharp object.
Hold the first paper up to the light outside.The light of the sun will shine through the hole. Position the second sheet of paper underneath the first one, so that the circle of sunlight falls onto it. You can adjust the distance between the two to alter the size and brightness of the image.
Observe the image of the sun.Your circle is not just a dot of sunlight, but a projected image of the sun.During a solar eclipse, the circle of projected sunlight will become a crescent as the moon obscures the sun.
Projecting with a Telescope or Binoculars
Locate a small telescope or a pair of binoculars.These can be used to project an image of the sun onto a flat surface, much like a pinhole projector. Because the lens is larger than a pinhole, though, the resulting image will be clearer and more detailed.
Cover the lens of one side of binoculars.Use a piece of cardstock or the lens cap to cover the larger front lens on one side.
Position the telescope or binoculars correctly.The larger front lens should be pointing toward the sun, so that the light shines through the smaller eyepiece lens onto the ground. Do not look through the lens at the sun: use the device’s shadow to help you aim correctly. Hold the device steady, or position it on a tripod.
View the projected image of the sun.The light from the sun will shine through the eyepiece onto the ground. Position a piece of white paper where the light falls for a clearer image.
Shift the telescope or binoculars away from the sun every few minutes to avoid overheating.The focused sunlight can damage the device if it is pointed at the sun for too long, especially during a time other than a solar eclipse.
Viewing a Solar Eclipse through a Filter
Purchase “eclipse goggles.” The simplest and cheapest way to view the sun through a filter is to locate a solar viewer or pair of paper glasses specially made for viewing a solar eclipse.
- These glasses usually only cost a few dollars, but be sure you purchase from a reputable vendor: they should be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard for such products.
- Check the lenses of the glasses for tears or scratches before use, and do not use them if they are damaged.
Use welder's goggles.Shade number 14 welder's glass is another affordable and widely available type of filter you can use to observe the sun with unaided eyes.
Mount a filter on a telescope.The only safe way to view the sun directly through a telescope, looking through the eyepiece, is to attach a solar filter over the larger front (objective) lens. If your telescope has a finderscope, cover it with a filter as well, or cap it with the lens cap to avoid damage.
- Purchase a filter made specifically for your telescope. These can be expensive, but will result in the clearest viewing of the sun when used properly. Be sure the filter is an exact match for your brand and model of telescope, and that it is mounted securely.
- Or, purchase a sheet of solar filtering film to construct your own filter to attach to the front end of your telescope or binoculars.Follow the instructions on the package for mounting the material, and be sure that the entire opening is covered.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
Do not look directly at the sun, even for a short time.It bears repeating: looking directly at the sun can permanently and irreparably damage your eyes.
Do not look at the sun through an improvised device.Sunglasses, polarized (3D) glasses, CDs, space blankets, and exposed film will not filter out the harmful wavelengths of sunlight and will not protect your eyes.
Do not look at the sun through a telescope or binoculars without a solar filter attached.Viewing the sun through these devices, even for a short time while positioning for use as a projector, is more dangerous than looking at the sun with your naked eyes. The lenses magnify the sun’s light and project it directly into your eye.
Be sure that any filter is correctly positioned before viewing the sun.Hold a solar viewer or eclipse glasses close to your face. Double-check that telescope-mounted filters are securely mounted.
QuestionWould it be safe to attach a camera to the eyepiece of my telescope to look at the sun?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo. Without the correct filters, it will cause irreversible damage to your camera, in the same way that it would cause damage to your eyes.Thanks!
Can I use black paper for the projection?
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