A spectacular solar eclipse will be visible in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa on Friday (March 20), but if you live in those visibility areas, make sure you’re prepared to practice safe eclipse viewing before you head outside. Your eyes will thank you later.
The total solar eclipse on Friday will be a northerly one: It will only be visible over the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, and from a few locations on land. But a partial eclipse will be visible in Europe, northern Asia and northern Africa. London will be cast into a temporary twilight when the moon blocks out about 87 percent of the sun.
Eclipses occur when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, temporarily blocking the solar rays. WARNING: You should ever look directly at the sun, even during a total eclipse of the sun. Severe or permanent eye damage can result.
The safest way to view an eclipse is indirectly, using a pinhole camera, which you can make at home (check out the video above to see how).
If you want to look directly at the sun as the moon passes in front of it, be sure to wear “eclipse glasses” or welder’s goggles rated 14 or higher. Sunglasses will not provide sufficient eye protection. Scientists and amateur astronomers use special solar filters on telescopes to safely view the sun.
Your eyes will not be protected by a telescope, binoculars, camera lens or cell phone camera, either. Never look directly at the sun through any of these devices. Our illustration above shows how you can use a pair of binoculars to safely project an image of the sun onto a piece of paper or surface, offering a safe view of the eclipse and sunspots.