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How to Be Safe While Watching the Total Solar Eclipse

On April 8th, the total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. For Kingstonians, this coming total solar eclipse will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime event, as the last eclipse was almost 700 years ago in 1349, and the next one won't be for another 375 years in 2399! Looking directly at an eclipse without proper eye protection is even more dangerous than looking into the Sun on any other day. It can cause partial or total blindness if the proper precautions are not taken. That being said, eclipses are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the Queen's community wants everyone to have a safe, enjoyable, and exciting experience. 

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on the Earth. A total solar eclipse, like the one that will occur on April 8th, 2024, occurs when the Moon completely blocks out the Sun's light and causes night-like darkness during the day on a very slim sliver of the Earth's surface. This sliver is also known as the path of totality.

Eye safety during a total solar eclipse

Except for the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse, where the Moon fully obstructs the Sun, it is unsafe to directly look at the Sun without specialized eye protection designed for solar viewing. Using camera lenses, binoculars, or telescopes without a dedicated solar filter secured over the front of the optics can lead to immediate and severe eye injury.

When watching the partial phases of the solar eclipse directly with your eyes, which happens before and after totality, you must look through safe solar viewing glasses (“eclipse glasses”) or a safe handheld solar viewer at all times. It is crucial to note that regular sunglasses, regardless of their darkness, are inadequate for solar viewing, whereas safe solar viewers are thousands of times darker. Always inspect your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer for any damage, and if torn, scratched, or otherwise compromised, discard the device.

Where can I get eclipse glasses?

Queen's University will be distributing a limited number of glasses to the Kingston and Queen's communities on campus and through the Kingston Frontenac Public Library system, at no cost! These glasses will be available for pick up as of Monday, March 25, 2024.

  • Public Libraries: Click here to view the list of pick-up locations.

  • Queen's Campus: Click here to view the list of pick-up locations.

    • Note: Queen's ID required.

  • Tourism Kingston: Visitors to Kingston can also purchase glasses on the Tourism Kingston website. They are also available in-person at the Visitor Information Centre (209 Ontario St., Kingston, K7L 2Z1). These glasses can be purchased for $2.50.

Be sure to follow the safety guidelines below during the total solar eclipse in April!

  • 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 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.

Be safe, and have fun!

Information adapted from:


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