Solar Eclipse 2017: How to Safely View It

August 21, 2017
Solar eclipse 2017 - Dr. Axe

There’s something special about witnessing an infrequent natural phenomenon and here, in the U.S., we have an exciting one: a total solar eclipse!


Solar Eclipse 2017 Details

On Monday, August 21, 2017, the continental U.S. will be directly in the path of a total solar eclipse, the first that’s been visible in the upper 48 states since Feb. 26, 1979.

During a total solar eclipse, to the eye, the moon seems to completely cover the sun in the sky (though in reality, the moon is much smaller than the sun). When this happens, the moon blocks all of the light from the sun, allowing viewers to get a glimpse of the sun’s outer atmosphere, while darkening the moon’s shadow. It creates a view we rarely get and the opportunity for some seriously Instagram-worthy images.

The lucky folks who live in the “path of totality,” which goes from Oregon to South Carolina and is about 70 miles wide, will see the total occurrence, while the rest of North America — and even parts of Europe, South America and Africa — will catch a partial solar eclipse, which is still pretty neat. (If you live in the path, you can see where to view the eclipse here. If you’re not in the path of totality, you can still watch it online.)

In cities and small towns along the path of totality, people have been prepping for years for this event. It’s a big deal — the next total solar eclipse visible in the country won’t be until 2024.

Of course, you’ll want to stay safe during solar eclipse 2017. Here’s how.


Safety + Tips: Solar Eclipse 2017

Keep eyes covered with eclipse glasses. Looking right at the sun is extremely unsafe for your eyes, and can cause damage or even blindness. The only time that it’s safe is during the total phase of the solar eclipse, which will only last for a minute or two and, even then, will only occur during the path of totality. At all other times (i.e. the uneclipsed or partial eclipse times), your eyes need to be protected. You need eclipse glasses for this.

Sunglasses are not safe, as they allow thousands of times too much sunlight to pass through. NASA recommends the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers. Be sure to put the glasses on before turning to view the sun. Using your camera lens, binoculars, telescope or anything else without having eclipse glasses on will not protect your eyes. If you are planning on using a device like that, you’ll require a solar filter. AAS has tips and safe models to buy here.

Do you wear eyeglasses? Keep them on and wear your eclipse glasses over them. You might not look super stylish, but your eyes will thank you!

Be sure eclipse glasses meet safety standards. You’re looking for eclipse glasses that meet ISO 12312-2 international safety standards. Fake eclipse glasses are being sold, so your best bet is to purchase glasses only from reputable vendors. Be sure that glasses aren’t scratched or damaged, and don’t remove them until you aren’t looking at the sun.

Glasses that meet the international safety standards are safe to wear as long as you’d like, so you can watch solar eclipse 2017 as long as you’d like. Store them in a protective eye pouch after you’re done wearing them; as long as the lens are undamaged, you can use them for the next eclipse.

Get your carotenoids in. OK, this isn’t exclusive to solar eclipse 2017. But eye health is crucial year-round, and carotenoids are awesome at keeping them healthy. Carotenoids are phytonutrients that fight free radical damage, provide our eyes with antioxidants and lower disease throughout the body.

You’ll find them in foods like butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin spinach, plantains and kale. They’re fat-soluble nutrients, so our bodies absorb more of their nutrients when they’re eaten with fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado or nuts and seeds.

Enjoy your natural source of vitamin D. Doctor’s orders! Our bodies make vitamin D, but they rely on sun exposure. Most of us spend very little time in natural sunlight: between our commutes, working and doing things indoors, we don’t spend much time outside, period. Unfortunately, our vitamin D levels suffer. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to health conditions like depression, weakened immune systems and skin issues like eczema.

Use solar eclipse 2017 as an excuse to get outside and add some vitamin D to your life — the all-natural way.

Try earthing. Get an extra health whammy from the solar eclipse and use it to try earthing. The practice, which basically involves being outdoor barefoot to feel the ground under your feet, has a range of benefits. It can reduce inflammation, reduce stress hormones, increase energy and even help you sleep better. Watching the eclipse from your lawn barefoot is an awesome way to get started.

Get social. With real people, that is. We spend so much time behind screens that we often don’t catch up with loved ones as often as we’d like. But good relationships with people we care about help keep us happy and healthy. Use solar eclipse 2017 as an opportunity to do something with friends, organize a barbecue (barefoot, of course!) or head to a park to watch this awesome event. It’s pretty cool on its own, but experiencing it with our favorite people is even better.


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