Friday, May 18, 2012

Viewing the Sun (safely): Part 1

With the on coming annular solar eclipse this weekend (May 20th 2012), I thought it would be good to write about the Sun.
I have been doing a lot of solar astronomy of late, that is viewing the sun through a telescope.
Many people ask me 'how do you look at the sun, isn't that dangerous?'

The answer is:
Yes and No... let me explain.
  • Yes, it is dangerous if you do not have the proper equipment, just looking at the sun through a telescope without the proper filters is a good way to permanently and completely damage your eyes. Even with the proper filters, great care should be taken to ensure the filters are in good condition.
  • No, it is not dangerous if you take the proper precautions and have the right gear.
So lets start with the gear:
There are many things to choose from, some very inexpensive and others well.. let's suffice to say that Astronomy can be (but doesn't have to be) a very expensive hobby. ;-)

Inexpensive items:
- Solar viewing goggles, the ones pictured here can be purchased at (albeit they are pretty expensive for what they are. Of note, these are not the most fashionable eyewear, however, they allow you to view for longer periods as they are 'hands-free'. (
Eclipser Solar Viewing Glasses with Double Alumunized Solar Skreen 2012 Pack of 30
Solar Viewing Goggles

- Solar viewing card, the card pictured below is actually quite inexpensive, but cards are harder to hold up for longer periods of time. (
Solar Eclipse Viewer For Also Viewing Sunspots, Solar Flares, Transit of Venus 2012-3 inches x 5 Inches (5 Pack) Hand-held Card
Solar Viewing Card

Continued in part 2

No comments:

Post a Comment