Eclipse 2024USA 2024

Why you need binoculars for the Total Solar Eclipse

It’s safe to view Totality with the naked eye, but some magnification is irresistible

What most websites don’t tell you about the Total Solar Eclipse on April, 8 2024, is that the event – however amazing, coincidental and entrancing – is very, very small.

The Moon and Sun only occupy about a half of a degree in the sky. They appear to be the same size to us on Earth because the Sun’s diameter is about 400 times greater than the Moon, but also around 400 times farther away.

Totality

You can view the sun with the naked eye or binoculars only during totality.

  • It is safe to view when the Moon fully covers the Sun but you must keep eclipse glasses or filters on until the Sun is completely obscured.
  • When any part of the bright Sun becomes visible again after totality, promptly put on your eclipse glasses or solar filter to safeguard your eyes while observing.

When the Solar Corona appears at Totality, it’s sometimes possible to see prominences – explosions or Solar Mass Ejections (SMEs) on the Sun’s surface – but only if you can get a close-up. “The best advice is to use whatever you can comfortably handle,” says Eddie Mahoney, the only NASA Ambassador and Director of Astronomy and host of Tour of the Stars at ‘world’s top hotel for stargazing’, the Hyatt Regency Maui. “I have a nice pair of 15×70 binoculars that weigh about 5lbs, and I put them on a tripod that easily takes their weight, and makes them easy to handle.”

Another option is to find smaller, easier-to-hold binoculars—10×50 work really well—or image-stabilising binoculars like the Canon 10×42 L IS WP binoculars.

Partial phases

You must use eclipse glasses, solar viewers or solar filters throughout the partial phases.

However, Mahoney also had some safety advice for WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com. “You absolutely must have solar filters that fit that particular model of binoculars for viewing before or after Totality,” he says.

Never look at the Sun through binoculars, even while wearing your safety glasses. Period. You’ll fry your eyes.

However, with filters in place, you can take a souvenir photo through them with a smartphone or compact camera. To make things easier, binocular mounts, such as the Carson HookUpz 2.0, are now becoming available for smartphones.

You can now buy binoculars with built-in solar filters, read our reviews here.

Photo credit: Jamie Carter

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