View the 2017 solar eclipse safely

Posted: August 17, 2017

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has issued the following information regarding the solar eclipse.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total eclipse of the sun will be visible across the entire continental United States for the first time in almost 40 years. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as "eclipse glasses" or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. They allow in too much sunlight.

Virginia is outside of the path of totality, meaning we will see a partially-eclipsed sun. Outside the path of totality, you must ALWAYS use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly. Viewing the eclipse through a pinhole viewer is another option, but individuals should carefully follow the instructions for constructing a safe pinhole viewer. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also offer a guide for making your own pinhole projector. Children should always be supervised when using solar filters and pinhole projectors.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and NASA both have recommendations on how to safely enjoy the solar eclipse. The American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable vendors of solar filters and viewers.

Though school doesn't start until September 5 for most of the state, The Virginia Department of Education encourages schools to make this a positive and memorable educational experience for staff, students and families and to warn them of the dangers of looking directly at the sun during the eclipse.