Safety tips for observing the Sun
If you are thinking of viewing the Sun, your first concern should always be eye safety. Serious eye damage can result from even a brief glimpse of our nearest star.
Never view the Sun directly with the naked eye or with any unfiltered optical device, such as binoculars or a telescope!
Galileo looked at the Sun through a telescope 400 years ago and suffered permanent eye damage. If it happened to the great Galileo, it can happen to you!
One safe way to observe sunspots or eclipses is to project an image of the Sun through a telescope or binoculars onto a white screen or any other plain surface.
If you are using a telescope, be sure that any small finder telescope is capped. If you're using binoculars, keep the cover on one of the two tubes.
Never look through a telescope or binoculars to point them at the Sun - partial or total blindness will almost surely result.
On the screen you should see a bright circle of light. This is the disc of the Sun. Adjust the distance between the screen and the telescope until the disk is about the size of a small plate. The image will probably be blurred; focus your telescope until the circle becomes sharp. Using this method you can see considerable detail in and around sunspot groups.
You can safely observe a TOTALLY eclipsed Sun with the naked eye, but you will need an appropriate type of welder’s glass, or special Mylar glasses to safely observe the beginning and ending of a full or partial eclipse - NEVER use normal sunglasses.
Last update: 28 September 2004