What You Need To Know About Looking At An Eclipse

by Maddy Sims
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Look away! Just kidding — unless it's a solar eclipse and your eyes are bare. Eclipses only come around a couple times each year, so obviously you might want to watch when one happens. Who wouldn't want to stare at a giant red orb or a ring of fire? There's lot of information out there about what happens when you look at an eclipse, from possible eye damage to astrological effects. Before the next series comes around on August 7, 2017, make sure you know everything there is to know about looking at an eclipse.

According to NASA, "It is never safe to look directly at the sun's rays – even if the sun is partly obscured." The good news is that you still can watch the solar eclipse happen — you just need to make sure your eyes are properly protected with eclipse glasses. In addition to this option from Rainbow Symphony, there are three other manufacturers that have certified their eclipse glasses that have met NASA's standards: American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17. Without certified eye protection, looking at the sun can potentially permanently damage the retinas in our eyes. Yikes.

While solar eclipses take this extra preparation, the good news is that lunar eclipses take none at all. They are totally safe to watch without any eye protection.

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But in astrology, watching an eclipse, lunar or solar, has traditionally been viewed as a bad omen. Why? Because astrology is all about stars, which are sources of light, and an eclipse is a source of darkness.

Notable astrologer Chani Nicholas, who teaches classes about astrology, credits her teacher, Demetra George, for explaining why astrologers don't recommend looking at an eclipse. "If you're absorbing the rays of the eclipse, perhaps you're absorbing things that are precarious or uncertain," Nicholas says. If you've watched an eclipse and are now worried you're carrying bad mojo, don't worry just yet. "I think the modern world would disagree," she says. "That's just a frame to look at it through. Everybody has to make up their own mind about it."

Annabel Gat, who has an astrology column for Broadly, agrees with Nicholas, citing an ancient story about a Chinese ruler who beheaded his astrologers because they didn't anticipate the total eclipse of the sun as proof of just how old this belief is. But Gat also tells me she believes that astrology is all about what you believe to be true.

If you're worried about absorbing bad vibes when the next eclipse series kicks off next week (no judgment), maybe sit these out. If you decide to tempt fate, the lunar eclipse will happen first, followed by the solar eclipse two weeks later. Just make sure for the second one, you remember your glasses.