Going blind looking at the sun tonight?

There is a partial eclipse of the sun tonight…best seen on the West Coast.
Every newscast is warning not to look directly at the setting sun, or YOU WILL GO BLIND!

To be honest, I had no intention of sitting in my lawnchair and staring directly into the sun for 30 minutes…Try looking directly at the sun in Nevada for more than .001 second and I think even the lowest form of slug would quickly figure out this was a bad idea.

But has anybody any real-life evidence of people going blind because they did this?
I mean, do you really have to warn people not to stare directly at the sun?

I wrote a whole chapter in my book about this. The best page to read is from Andrew Young, writing about Galileo.

The bottom line is, don’t look at the Sun with the unaided eye. You won’t get permanently blinded, nor will you go totally blind, but you are risking retinal and corneal damage. The best bet is to use a safe filter, or better, to project the Sun’s image onto paper using a telescope or binoculars (which is how I will do it tonight).

Thank you, The Bad Astronomer (aka Andrew)!
Amazing research on your part! Nicely done.

I hope everyone who glances at this thread reads your chapter…once again, another urban myth disguised as TV news trying to scare mothers to lock their children in the cellar during eclipses.

And yes, Mr. TBA, I will use some kind of filter tonight, or I will just sneak a glance or two with the naked eye, as the sun sets off in the distance and plops onto Barstow.

I just tried to look in the general vicinity of the sun tonight, and it wasn’t even close to the horizon yet, and I’m still seeing afterimages.

I tried to look too, even in Michigan there was suppose to be some eclipse. At about 7:30 I went out, it was fairly clear and you could see the sun. I looked at it as my dad was pulling in the driveway and he yelled at me for just trying to stare at it. I walked inside, got the whole cardboard/pinhole thing set up, walked back outside, and who woulda thunk that the stupid clouds would have rolled in and blocked the sun in the five minutes I was inside? Not me…

…Stupid clouds.

I made a viewing box from a poster tube and walked around on the beach like a total dork letting people look. NERD-Y! But the I realised that projecting it onto paper with my binoculars worked much better. It was pretty cool down here.

I nearly went blind gazing upon bright white cardboard.
Other than that, it was cool. I checked its progress several times between 5:15 and 6:30.

Hey, I did the proselytizing nerd thing too, only with an empty tissue box. The FedEx guy wanted to shake my hand!

It was a clear blue sky, but the sunlight was… halved, somehow. Very disconcerting.

I was down at the beach with a piece of welder’s glass. Nifty: the sun with a bite out of it.

Reached maybe 30% coverage here at Seattle’s latitude.

Watch out! I just saw Incubus tonight, and I can tell you that if you look at the Sun during a total eclipse, then not only will you go blind, but, um, your brother, played by William Shatner, will run off with a Succubus and confess his love for her. Meanwhile, some creepy old lady will make you mute and you’ll go bumbling through the woods until you’re rescued. Oh, and the Incubus will kill you.Just be careful.


I own binoculars! I coulda used them to magnify the image instead of looking at a sun about one centimeter across!
Now I gotta wait until 2012!

Okay, so you won’t go totally blind. Personally, I think permanent partial damage is bad enough. I’ll continue not looking directly at the sun, thank you.

Is it just me or are the concepts of “looking at the sun” and “tonight” in direct opposition to each other?

Yeah, yeah…so what I meant was, “as the sun sets”…but I did think of that after I wrote it.

So…I bravely stood on my balcony at sunset, looked directly at the sun and was instantly blinded. Just as I expected. No week-long of dire TV newscasters warning me to avoid looking at the sun was necessary. Hurt like hell.

I went back in and watch the great pictures on television.

I will eagerly be waiting to get the results of how many people actually went blind yesterday because they missed the newscasts and they stared at the sunset with the naked eye for 10-30 minutes…

Ya’ll keep me informed if you hear of anybody, ok?

I just used a card with a pinhole, and another card on which to project the image.

Probably because it was only a partial eclipse, I thought the strangely dimmed light outdoors was more interesting than the actual eclipse. I would describe it as being dim as if it were a cloudy day, yet with sharp shadows on the ground as on a normally sunny day. Very, very strange.

I used my binoculars (Standard Warning: DO NOT LOOK THROUGH BINOCULARS AT THE SUN! PROJECT THE IMAGE! IT LOOKS COOL!) but all we saw up here was a little crescent missing–not even noticable to the naked eye unless you know to look (Standard Warning: DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN WITH YOUR NAKED EYE, EITHER!)

Anecdotal report, not worth scrounging a cite: A while back (early 90’s) there was a partial eclipse visible in the southwest US and Mexico. I was in NM at the time. We saw on the news that a woman in Mexico temporarily lost her sight because she stared at the entire eclipse, the whole time. She had no idea what it was, and thought it was “a miracle from God.” But, as I said, she did recover her sight after several days.
Now, ask me sometime about the guy who emailed me about how he wanted to make his own solar filter for his telescope . . . (Standard Warning: DO NOT TRY TO MAKE YOUR OWN SOLAR FILTER!)

There are two ways to get hurt doing astronomy: 1) Trip over something in the dark. 2) Stare at the Sun. DO NOT STARE AT THE SUN!

(BTW, DMark, the Bad Astronomer’s name is Phil, not Andrew. His website is http://www.badastronomy.com and is well worth a surf!)

Ooops…sorry about that Phil…I just saw the name Andrew Young at the end of that chapter and assumed…
Thank you Podkayne for pointing that out.
And yes, his website is well worth the surf!

Check out the movie Pi for another example of what staring at the sun too much can do to you.