BRANCHBURG NJ - The public anxiously awaits today's solar eclipse.  It will be the first solar eclipse in the United States since 1979.  Safety is extremely important for all eclipse viewers.  Kevin Schindler, Planetarium Associate, and Technician at the Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium offered TAP and its readers some expert advice.

"Never look directly at the sun," said Schindler.  "The best way to view a solar eclipse safely is to wear certified solar eclipse viewing glasses." The specialized glasses block dangerous infrared and ultraviolet rays, according to Schindler. The glasses also block most of the visible light.

"Be sure that they are certified solar eclipse viewing glasses," he continued.  "Sunglasses, no matter how good they may be, are not substitutes for the viewing glasses."  Sunglasses will not offer a dark enough tint to protect the viewer's eyes, according to Schindler.

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Without certified viewing glasses, there are safe ways to observe projections of the eclipse, but Schindler emphasized again, "do not look at the Sun at any time."

Schindler recommended the "projection method" for viewers who are unable to obtain certified eclipse viewing glasses.  To use the projection method, the eclipse viewer stands with his or her back to the sun. While facing away from the sun, the viewer then makes a waffle-shaped shadow on the ground with his or her fingers.  The projection of the eclipse will then appear in as a crescent in the shadow.

Eclipse projection method:  See photo

There are other projections available that the eclipse viewer can obtain through a web search, but Mr. Schindler said:  "No matter what; don't look directly at the Sun."

The RVCC Planetarium offers a free and safe eclipse viewing on Monday.  The college has sold approximately one thousand seven hundred pairs of eclipse glasses and will have a limited supply available on Monday.  Mr. Schindler suggests that eclipse viewers bring their own glasses, if possible.

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