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The solar eclipse: how to observe it safely

The solar eclipse: how to observe it safely

Did you know that on April 8, a rare and amazing event will take place? Yes, a total solar eclipse will be observable in certain regions of Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. At New Look, we don't sell protective products, however, we do have a few best practices to share with you to protect your eyes from the possible damage of observing the eclipse, while still enjoying the moment!

What is a solar eclipse?

This year we are lucky to experience this rare occasion of a total solar eclipse, but what does that mean? A total solar eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun making the sky darken significantly and the sun becomes visible around the edges of the moon.

Where? When? How?

This phenomenon will be observable on April 8, between 11:43 a.m. and 4:52 p.m., lasting from 45 seconds to over four minutes. In Canada, it will be visible between approximately 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

During this time, parts of some countries will be briefly immersed in darkness, to the delight of countless observers. Did you know that it's been over 50 years since the last total solar eclipse, and that the next one won't happen for another 80 years? It's an EXTREMELY rare phenomenon! Many partial eclipses have taken place in Canada, but it goes without saying that many of you will want to observe this special event. And we can understand why! 

What are the related risks?

During an eclipse, infrared rays are particularly dangerous. They can burn the retina and cause serious, even permanent, eye damage, leading to irreversible vision loss (blindness).

The harmful effects of exposure to the Sun during an eclipse may not be immediate, and eye damage may appear hours after exposure. It's important to note that these lesions are insidious, as they cause no pain. It only takes a few seconds to cause damage.

Recommendations for observing the eclipse

  1. Use quality sun filters that meet ISO 12312-2 standards and never look directly at the Sun without protection.
  2. Avoid the use of optical instruments (such as binoculars, cameras or telescopes) without appropriate filters, and follow the recommended instructions for use.
  3. If you experience discomfort or symptoms after observation, consult an eye health professional promptly.
  4. Do not view the eclipse through any viewing device without the appropriate filters. The majority of welding masks do not have a sufficient filter to observe the eclipse.

How to choose the right filters for a solar eclipse?

Looking to buy filters? Here are our tips for choosing the right product, often in the form of disposable cardboard glasses.

  1. ISO-12312-2 safety standard: Make sure that the solar filters are marked as complying with the ISO-12312-2 standard.

  2. Manufacturer Reputation: Opt for solar filters made by reputable and respected companies in the field of astronomy. See the Éclipse Québec website to make an informed purchase.

  3. Quality materials: Choose solar filters made from optical-grade materials, such as special polymers.

  4. Tint Uniformity: Check that the filter tint is uniform. Variations in tint can cause uneven transmission of sunlight, compromising eye protection.

  5. Proper Size: Make sure the sunscreen filters are large enough to completely cover your eyes and do not let light through around the edges.

  6. Clear instructions for use: Choose sunscreens that come with clear instructions for use. Follow these instructions carefully to ensure correct and safe use. Wearing these filters also requires carefully following the accompanying instructions. Note that children will need increased supervision during eclipses, as they may not fully understand the risks involved and may not follow recommended wearing instructions.

For more information, visit the Canadian Association of Optometrists website.

By following these tips, you'll be protecting your eyes, while taking part in the experience. And for more advice, consult your optometrists at New Look. Happy viewing!

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