Safely Viewing the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

How to safely observe and capture the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse

Safe Eclipse Observation Techniques
Wes Vance
March 13, 2024

On April 8, 2024, adventurers and road-trippers will have the unique opportunity to chase the shadow of the moon across North America during the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse. This rare celestial event will offer a stunning spectacle, as day turns to night! Since the focus is on the sun, it’s necessary to discuss safe viewing practices to protect your eyes and camera equipment.

As you plan your journey to witness this awe-inspiring phenomenon, this guide will equip you with essential tips on how to safely observe and capture the eclipse.

Wes during the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Before & After Totality

The sun's rays, even when mostly obscured, can cause irreversible eye damage if viewed without proper protection. To ensure a safe viewing experience, before and after the totality, it's essential to secure ISO-certified eclipse glasses or solar viewers. These are specially designed to protect your eyes from the harmful rays by meeting the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Authentic safety equipment can be verified through reputable astronomy clubs, science museums, or directly from certified manufacturers.

Here’s a link to purchase glasses that will keep you safe while enjoying the event! Remember, regular sunglasses, even those with UV protection, are not safe for viewing the eclipse.

During Totality

During a total solar eclipse, it is safe to remove your eclipse glasses or solar viewers only during the brief phase known as "totality," when the moon completely covers the sun. Totality is the climax of the eclipse, revealing the sun's corona—the outer atmosphere of the sun—which emits a ghostly, beautiful light. This is the only time when it is safe to look at the eclipse without any eye protection, as the sun’s harmful rays are fully blocked by the moon.

It's crucial to be aware of the timing of totality, which can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes depending on your location within the path of totality. The moments leading up to and immediately following totality—the partial phases of the eclipse—still require the use of eclipse glasses or solar viewers to prevent eye damage.

As totality approaches, you'll notice the environment around you darkening rapidly. Once the sun is completely covered and the corona becomes visible, it's safe to look without protection.

Even a few seconds can cause eye damage, so we recommend finding how long the totality will last in your area, and setting a timer as a reminder to put your glasses back on before the totality ends.

The appearance of the "diamond ring" effect, a bright flash of light when the sun begins to reemerge, is your cue to put your eclipse glasses back on immediately.

Pinhole camera effect during the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Without Looking Up

As the moon's shadow passes over, you'll notice a surreal daytime darkness paired with a significant drop in temperature. The quality of light becomes ethereal, casting peculiar shadows and altering the appearance of the surrounding landscape. The sky may have a 360-degree sunset effect, and the stars can be seen.

Observing animals' reactions can also be a fascinating aspect of the experience. Birds may roost, insects may chirp, and some nocturnal animals may become active, mistaking the sudden darkness for nighttime.

One of the most enchanting sights is the creation of natural pinhole cameras by tree leaves, where hundreds of crescent-shaped suns dance on the ground, a reflection of the eclipse in progress above. A total solar eclipse is an engaging and unique experience, even when not seen directly!

What about Cameras?

Just as the human eye requires protection to safely view a solar eclipse, camera equipment needs safeguards to prevent damage when capturing this celestial event. Without the right protective gear, the intense rays of the sun can cause irreversible harm to a camera's sensor, especially during the partial phases of an eclipse when the sun is not completely covered by the moon. This is a concern for both traditional cameras, like DSLRs and mirrorless systems, as well as for smartphones equipped with cameras.

The essential piece of safety equipment for photographing a solar eclipse is a solar filter. These filters are specifically designed to fit over the lens of your camera and reduce the sun's light to safe levels. This not only protects the camera's sensor, but also ensures that the resulting images are not overexposed. Solar filters are made from a special optical material that cuts down the sun's brightness to a manageable level, allowing you to capture the partial phases of the eclipse without risk.

It's important to secure a solar filter that is compatible with your specific camera or lens model. These filters are available in various sizes and formats, including screw-on filters for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, and adhesive or clamp-on options for smartphones and smaller cameras. Ensure that the filter is properly attached and secured before pointing your camera at the sun, and only remove it during the totality phase when it is safe to do so.

Wes viewing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse with his eclipse glasses


The 2024 Total Solar Eclipse is an opportunity to hit the open road, explore new places, and join in the festive atmosphere*.* It's crucial to emphasize the importance of preparation and safety in both viewing this awe-inspiring event. If properly equipped, you’re bound to have a memorable experience.

Our app - ExploreHere Audio Guide provides interesting stories about the places you encounter as you travel. We’re working on adding unique eclipse content to further enhance the experience leading up to this exciting moment!

Stay tuned to future articles as we’ll dive deeper into:

  • Essential travel tips
  • Cultural impact of eclipses
  • Eclipse Scientific Discoveries

Whether you're a seasoned eclipse chaser or a curious first-timer, this journey promises to be a memorable one!