It is never safe to look directly at the sun – even if the sun is partly obscured. When watching a partial solar eclipse, you must wear eclipse glasses at all times if you want to face the sun. This also applies during a total solar eclipse leading up to and after totality, when the moon is completely blocking the sun. During the short period of totality, it is safe to look directly at the sun, but it's crucial that you know when to take off and put back on your eclipse glasses. For more information, visit NASA's eclipse safety page.
Please note that eclipse glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; regular sunglasses are not safe for viewing the sun. If you don’t have solar viewing or eclipse glasses, you can use an alternate indirect method, such as a pinhole projector.
Important Safety Guidelines to Follow During a Total Solar Eclipse
- View the Sun through eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer during the partial eclipse phases before and after totality.
- You can view the eclipse directly without proper eye protection only when the Moon completely obscures the Sun’s bright face – during the brief and spectacular period known as totality. (You’ll know it’s safe when you can no longer see any part of the Sun through eclipse glasses or a solar viewer.)
- As soon as you see even a little bit of the bright Sun reappear after totality, immediately put your eclipse glasses back on or use a handheld solar viewer to look at the Sun.
Even during a partial or annular eclipse, or during the partial phases of a total eclipse, the Sun will be very bright. If you are watching an entire eclipse, you may be in direct sunlight for hours. Remember to wear sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing to prevent skin damage.