The eclipse is coming. On August 21, the continental United States will witness a total eclipse for the first time in 38 years. This celestial phenomenon occurs when the sun is blocked by the moon, and areas of the United States will go into total darkness as the moon moves between the sun and the Earth. This perfect alignment is rare, the next total solar eclipse is slated for 2024 in North America, with a few others slated to zig zag across other parts of the globe between now and then. Those planning to witness ‘totality,’ the complete obscuring of the sun, are already tracking the eclipse’s path across the country and finding campsites, hotels, and rooftops from which to witness the event. It’s estimated that it will take one hour and 33 minutes for the moon’s shadow to cross the entire country.
Remember when your mom told you not to stare at the sun, because you would go blind? The same holds true for eclipse day – it’s vitally important to have appropriate and certified Solar Eclipse approved eyewear when you’re looking directly at the sun, even when it is fully or partially blocked by the moon. As stylish and functional as Rudy Project sunglasses are, they are not enough to protect your eyes when looking directly at the sun, not even our High Altitude lenses with a filter factor of 4 (they only transmit 5.5% of available light). Most 100% UVA and UVB sunglasses including Rudy Project eyewear is still not enough when you’re looking directly at the sun. Remember, looking straight at the sun can cause serious ocular damage, including photokeratitis (sunburn to your eye), or solar retinopathy, which is caused by light from the sun flooding the retina at the back of the eye, and actually causes damage to the rods and cones by igniting a chemical reaction. Even if you don the darkest pair of sunglasses you own, Rudy Project or other brands, they still won’t be sufficient to protect your eyes. Instead, experts recommend ISO-certified filters, which typically take the form of eclipse glasses or solar filters for your telescopes and cameras.
The popularity of the eclipse has resulted in many retailers producing ‘solar eclipse’ glasses that fall short of safety standards set by NASA. The American Astronomical Society issued a list of trusted vendors that produce solar filters and viewers, which you can find here. When in doubt, it can be helpful to talk to your professional eye care provider. You can find your local authorized Rudy Project dealers and eye care provider here.
For those setting out on a quest for adventure and to obtain the best viewing experience, Gear Institute has very helpfully assembled what they’re calling a Total Solar Eclipse Survival Package, including everything you need from the perfect tent to a whole section on the appropriate photography gear. And for more eclipse photography tips, you can check out this awesome article from the American Academy of Optometry.
For everyone out there looking to see this little piece of solar history, have a fantastic time, and remember! Take good care of your eyes, you only have one pair. Remember that sunglasses are not dark enough to fully protect your eyes when you’re looking directly at the sun, and you must get eclipse-specific glasses in order to fully enjoy the viewing experience. Enjoy!