Written by Annika Sharlow

It’s never safe to look directly at the sun.

This includes any part of solar eclipse viewing other than the short period of totality – when the moon completely covers the sun. The only way to safely watch an eclipse (whether total or partial), is to use special eclipse glasses made of a flexible resin infused with carbon particles which block the sun’s ultraviolet and infrared radiation from reaching your eyes and causing permanent damage.

As we get ready for the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024, learn about why you need glasses, how to use them safely, and where you can get them on Ball State’s campus.

Eclipse Glasses

Why do I need eclipse glasses?

Eclipse glasses are incredibly important for eye safety. Watching a solar eclipse without eye protection has lasting consequences. Direct exposure to the sun’s radiation causes the damage or destruction of cells in the eye’s retina – leading to temporary or even permanent blindness. It is not safe to use sunglasses instead of eclipse glasses. Sunglasses have drastically weaker filters for blocking the harmful rays of the sun, so they are never to be used for looking directly at the sun.

It is not safe to try and view the solar eclipse through unfiltered cameras (including the camera on a phone), binoculars, and telescopes – even if the viewer is wearing eclipse glasses. The lenses on these devices can also be permanently damaged by using them to view eclipses without special filters put at the front of the lens. Some of these filters may only be approved for photography rather than both photography and viewing, so it is not recommended to use a camera’s viewfinder to take photos, instead use its LCD monitor.

How to use eclipse glasses?

Before putting on the glasses, inspect them thoroughly for any scratches or dents. It is not safe to use glasses that have any damage. Wearing eclipse glasses is necessary for the time before the eclipse has begun, during the periods of partial eclipse, and as the eclipse is ending. They can only be safely removed during the period of totality. At the first sign of the sun coming out from behind the moon again, you should look away and put your glasses back on.Charlie Cardinal wearing eclipse glasses

For the upcoming April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse, totality for Muncie should be at around 3:08 p.m. and last for about 3 minutes and 40 seconds till  3:11 p.m. This is the only time during the eclipse that the removal of glasses is safe. Make sure to have them on before looking up at the sun and always look away from the sun first before putting the glasses back on after totality.

How do I get eclipse glasses?

Eclipse glasses will be available to Ball State students, faculty, and staff starting March 18 at high-traffic locations (such as the Student Center, resident halls, Atrium, library, Emens, Rec Center, etc.). They can also be acquired by attending Charles W. Brown Planetarium shows – these shows have a suggested cash donation of $1. There will also be some glasses available in the planetarium lobby on specific dates (Thursdays 3/14, 3/21, 3/28, and 4/4) from 11:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

When purchasing glasses – especially from an online store, NASA recommends that only those that comply with the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) standards be purchased. These should be marked with ISO 12312-2:2015 labeling. Glasses that don’t meet these standards are not guaranteed to safely protect your eyes and therefore should not be used.

If glasses are unavailable, there are methods for indirect eclipse viewing. The simplest of these methods is to watch the eclipse via a cast shadow of an object. Hold something like a colander and a slotted spoon with round holes outside during the eclipse and watch the holes in its shadow become crescents just like the sun is doing as it goes behind the moon. Pinhole projectors can also be made out of simple materials like just two sheets of paper (one with a small hole poked in it using something sharp like a needle or tack and the other kept whole) or a cardboard box, aluminum foil, and a sheet of paper. Tutorials to easily craft these projectors at home can be found online.

Do not use these methods to look at the sun itself. These methods should all be used facing away from the sun, either looking down at cast shadows or watching the projected eclipse on the sheet of paper.


Read more about how Ball State students are preparing for the Total Solar Eclipse and all you need to know to get ready