AF gives tips, tricks to watch the solar eclipse

  • Published
  • By Air Force Optometry and NASA

A perfect lineup of the sun, moon and Earth will be visible across North America from coast to coast for the first time in 38 years on Aug. 21.

One of the grandest and most fleeting natural spectacles known to humanity, this total solar eclipse is predicted to be the most viewed ever. However, it is important to use proper eye protection to avoid permanent injury.

Here are five things for Kirtland Air Force Base team members and their families to know for a safe viewing experience:

The Path of Totality

“Totality” — when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s face — will stretch from Salem, Oregon, starting at 10:16 a.m. and reach Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:48 p.m.

This means Mountain Home, F.E. Warren, Offutt, Scott, Arnold, Shaw and Charleston Air Force bases will briefly experience near 100 percent eclipse, while the rest of the United States, including Kirtland, will see at least 70-90 percent.

Kirtland AFB will reach a maximum of 73 percent totality at 11:45 local time. The eclipse will begin at 10:21 a.m. and end at 1:14 p.m.

Don’t look at the sun

Looking directly at the solar eclipse without proper eye protection is unsafe and can cause serious permanent eye damage.

The lone exception is during the brief total phase of the eclipse, which will not happen at Kirtland. Here, there will be harmful rays for the duration of the celestial event.

Safe ways to watch

Homemade filters and standard sunglasses — even dark or polarized ones —are not sufficient to prevent eye damage.

This also goes for unfiltered cameras, telescopes, binoculars and other optical devices.

The only safe way to directly view the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters — i.e. “eclipse glasses” or handheld solar viewers — that are “CE” certified and meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard. Look for these at community centers, public libraries and through reputable manufacturers online.

Always supervise children using solar viewers, as young eyes are particularly susceptible to solar exposure damage.

Indirect viewing techniques are the best safe and fun alternative.

Pinhole projectors using your hands, cereal boxes or other projection techniques are popular ways to safely observe a solar eclipse. Look online for instructions on how to make a simple projector.

NASA eclipse coverage

For the safest viewing experience, NASA will host a livestream “Eclipse Megacast” with exclusive multi-platform coverage across the path of totality.

For more information and resources to safely enjoy the rare solar eclipse, look for the NASA eclipse website.

For more information

NASA has a safety section with maps and resources at

Remember, never look directly at the sun with the naked eye except during the brief total phase, which will not occur at Kirtland. If you experience problems with your eyes or vision following the eclipse, be sure to check in with the optometry clinic.

Sapp contributed to this article.