Local astronomer debunks myths about what you should and shouldn't do to watch the eclipse

Cameras, phones, glasses need solar protection
Posted at 11:34 PM, Aug 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-03 09:45:58-04

Astronomy professor at St. Pete College and head of the Museum of Science and Industry Space Program, Antonio Paris, said people going out to enjoy the solar eclipse on Aug. 21 should do everything they can now to get the proper equipment.

“There are a lot of scams out there where people are selling glasses that are not rated for these things,” Paris said. “There’s some folklore out there about things you can use like 35mm film, welder’s glasses. Those things are not rated for watching the eclipse so you have to be careful with that.”

Not using the proper filters or protective glasses can burn your retina and cause permanent damage to your eye.

“People have to understand we are not in the path of totality. If you are in that path of totality at 2:49 p.m. then you don't need any filters then you can remove all lenses because it's a total eclipse,” Paris said.

Florida has about an 85 percent coverage.

“Here in Florida we don't have a total eclipse, which means no matter what, you have to use a filter on your camera binoculars telescopes,” Paris said. “You will damage, not only the equipment, but your eyes it is potentially dangerous.”

NASA has a website dedicated to the 2017 eclipse, and on it, they have a section dedicated to eclipse-viewing safety. The site says that eclipse-viewing glasses must meet a few basic criteria:

  • Have ISO 12312-2 certification (that is, having been certified as passing a particular set of tests set forth by the International Organization of Standardization)
  • Have the manufacturer’s name and address printed somewhere on the product
  • Not be older than three years, or have scratched or wrinkled lenses

NASA also names a few trustworthy lens brands:

“Our partner the American Astronomical Society has verified that these five manufacturers are making eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.”

“We are going to get a pretty good show down here in Florida,” Paris said.

The next total eclipse for North America will be in 2024.