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How to view the solar eclipse safely in the Tetons

  • Category: Blog
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  • Written By: St. John's Medical Center
How to view the solar eclipse safely in the Tetons

Jackson Hole, Wyoming is in the path of totality for the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017. St. John's wants to make sure that everyone coming to the Teton area takes the necessary precautions to protect their eyes while watching the eclipse. Read these helpful tips to keep your eyes safe from solar blindness.

How to view the eclipse safely

  • During totality (the period of about 2-1/2 minutes when the sun is completely blocked by the moon), it is safe to look directly at the eclipse. The problem is this: you won’t know if it’s totality unless you look!
  • Any time before or after totality, when any portion of the sun is visible, looking directly at the eclipse can cause eye damage.
  • The safest way to view the eclipse is by an indirect method:
    • The pinhole technique: put a pinhole in a piece of card stock. Hold the paper in the sun. Project the pinhole of light passing through the card onto a second card about 3 feet away.
    • The mirror technique: Use a small, flat mirror (or a mirror covered except for a circle about ¼” diameter) to reflect sunlight on a nearby wall or object. The shape of the reflection will mimic the shape of the sun
  • Commercial welder’s glasses shade 14 or darker are felt to provide sufficient protection.
  • Disposable “eclipse glasses” are widely available, but their efficacy has not been fully tested. If you use eclipse glasses or any other handheld viewing device, make sure it is rated as having an optical density (OD) of at least 5. Look for evidence that they're certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for safe direct viewing of the Sun. St. John's is offering FREE eclipse glasses, available for pickup at Jackson Hole Live concert on Friday, August 18 at the Snow King ballpark.
  • If your eyes hurt or your vision changes, stop looking at the eclipse immediately. Any additional viewing will lead to accumulating damage.

Unsafe ways to view the eclipse

  • DO NOT look directly at the sun when ANY part of it is visible, even a sliver.
  • DO NOT look at the sun repeatedly, even for a split second.
  • DO NOT look at the sun through makeshift filters, such as exposed film, CDs, sunglasses, smoked glass, or looking directly at the sun’s reflection on water.
  • DO NOT look at the sun through binoculars, telescopes, or any other magnifying device unless it is properly fitted with a solar filter.
  • DO NOT look at the sun through a camera, smartphone, or any other device without a proper solar filter (ISO 12312-2 certified)

Concerned about solar blindness? Read about symptoms and treatment. More helpful eclipse information can be found on