Janet’s Planet: Viewing the Sun safely with binoculars, telescope

(Courtesy: Janet's Planet)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – We’re counting down to the Total Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, and today, we’re taking a look at how to view our closest star, the Sun, safely.

Meet Theo Wellington, a self-proclaimed eclipse evangelist.

“I’m a NASA Solar System Ambassador, which is a volunteer position with NASA where we do outreach on NASA’s behalf. And this year it’s just been all about the eclipse,” he told Janet’s Planet.

She’s an amateur astronomer educating the public about the eclipse and how to view viewing it safely.

“So your mother told you and it’s always true. Never, ever, ever… never ever.. look at the Sun with just your eyes because it can and will damage your eyes,” Wellington said.

If you have a telescope, binoculars, or a camera, you really need some special gear to do that.

(Photo: WKRN)

“Any thing you’re going to look at the sun with, filters go on the front. So for binoculars, they do make special filters that are much like these that go on the front. For telescopes, the same way,” explained Wellington.

It works for SLR cameras and has threads that fit right on the front of the lenses then screw on.

“And now when I’m looking through the view finder, I’m looking at a filtered view of the Sun. That keeps me safe,” said the NASA ambassador.

First, if you have binoculars, do not put on the glasses and then use binoculars. Binoculars focus more than 600 times the amount of light your eye takes in, and it will burn through the glasses in 10 seconds.

So what if I don’t have eclipse glasses, what can I do to see the partial phase of the eclipse safely?

(Photo: WKRN)

“This is just a box. There’s nothing special about it, but I cut a hole on one side put a piece of aluminum foil and then there’s a pin hole in that aluminum foil,” explained Wellington.

She continued, “Down at the other side, I cut a hole. There’s a piece of white paper, so what the box does it keeps the white paper some distance from the pinhole. That’s really it.”

There are also things called Sunspotters that help you view the sun safely.

(Photo: WKRN)

“It has a lens here, a bunch of mirrors to get the length, so instead of a tube, we are bouncing it across mirrors, and then there’s an eye piece and it makes a nice three-inch projected image of the Sun,” said Wellington.

With so many ways to safely view the sun, any last words of astronomical wisdom?

“Don’t be worried about your camera and the settings; just enjoy the greatest show on Earth. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and it’s in our own backyard,” Wellington added.

You’ll see more from Janey Ivey right here on News 2 leading up to the big day. We’re also partnering with the Nashville Sounds and the city of Nashville for a watch party at First Tennessee Park. Danielle Breezy is hosting the event, and if you can’t make it out, we still got you covered with a three-hour special from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Aug. 21 right here on News 2.

Visit wkrn.com/eclipse for all the resources and information you need.