Maybe you just found out your eclipse glasses are counterfeit, or you just haven't gotten around to picking up any, and now that the solar eclipse is on Monday, you're wondering: Is it safe to look at a solar eclipse through a window? Unfortunately, the answer is not unless you want to permanently damage your eyes. "The light from the sun is very intense and concentrated into a very small area, and then that light is converted into heat and that heat cooks the retina,” Joel Schuman, chair of ophthalmology at NYU Langone Health, told Vox. “So you have a permanent area that you don’t see, a permanent blind spot.”
Because windows do not block out the potentially damaging solar rays that could cook your retina, it's absolutely not safe to watch the eclipse through a window without protective eyewear. Time magazine reported: "The total solar eclipse, which has been dubbed 'The Great American Eclipse,' will last for about an hour and a half overall, but each city that catches the eclipse will only see it for a matter of minutes or seconds. The moon's shadow travels at roughly 2,400 mph over the face of the Earth, according to Bill Kramer, a well-known expert in the eclipse chasing community."
While it's never safe to look directly at the sun with your naked eyes, during the duration of this celestial event you should not look at the sun without approved solar eclipse glasses.
Protect Your Eyes During The Solar Eclipse
With the eclipse only a day away, there are many things you likely haven't thought of, like driving. How are you not supposed to look out the window if you happen to be driving during the solar eclipse? To clarify, looking out the window is perfectly safe, as long as you're not looking directly at the sun.
The Washington Post reported, "The sky will get dark. The sun will appear to go away in the middle of the day. Do not slam on your brakes. Do not be afraid.” Additionally, as long as you're not looking directly at the sun, it's safe to drive, and no — you shouldn't wear solar eclipse glasses while driving. However, if you pull over to view the eclipse, make sure you put on your approved eclipse glasses before looking at the sun, but after you park your car.
If you don't have eclipse glasses you can make a pinhole projection with your hands. "Just cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other," the American Astronomical Society explained. "Then, with your back to the Sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground. During the partial phases of the solar eclipse, these images will reveal the Sun's crescent shape."
While it's never safe to look directly at the sun, it's also unsafe to view the solar eclipse using any of the following items, according to Atlanta-based Ross Eyecare Group: Regular sunglasses, no matter how dark they are, and no matter how many pairs you put together, or any binoculars, telescopes, or cameras (even cell phone cameras) without certified lenses that are approved and manufactured specifically for that device.
It is also unsafe to view the eclipse through these devices even if you are wearing approved direct viewing eclipse glasses. These approved direct viewing eclipse glasses are only safe to be used for direct viewing without looking through binoculars, telescopes, or cameras.
And, if you do plan to get some snaps of the eclipse, Forbes published tips for doing it without burning out the camera on your smartphone. Because, just like your eyes, pointing your phone directly at the sun can cause permanent damage.