Here in Bexar County, we will have a great view of the upcoming eclipse:
Monday, April 8, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse
With such a unique opportunity, it’s best to get prepared so you can enjoy the eclipse safely.
A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth.
While the sun is actually about 400 times larger in diameter than the moon, the moon is also about 400 times closer than the sun. Since closer things appear bigger and distant things appear smaller, the sun and the moon appear to be about the same size in our sky.
Annular eclipses happen when the moon is at its farthest point from Earth so that it appears smaller than usual in contrast to the sun. Because of the apparent change in size, the moon does not completely cover the sun, creating a “ring of fire” effect in the sky.
A total eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun, causing the sky to darken as if at dusk or dawn. During a total eclipse, viewers can see the sun’s corona (outer atmosphere), which usually isn’t visible due to the brightness of the sun.
Solar Eclipse Safety
During a solar eclipse, it is never safe to look directly at the sun without specialized eye protection or solar filters (for cameras, binoculars, etc.) designed for solar viewing. Looking at the sun without protection will instantly cause severe eye injury. Always inspect your eclipse glasses or viewers and any solar filters before use; if they are torn, scratched, or otherwise damaged, discard the device. Always supervise children using solar viewers.
When watching with just your eyes, wear safe solar viewing glasses (“eclipse glasses”) or use a safe handheld solar viewer at all times.
Eclipse glasses are NOT regular sunglasses; safe solar viewers are thousands of times darker and must meet safety standards.
Cameras, Binoculars, etc.
Items which use lenses (cameras, binoculars, or telescopes) need a proper solar filter to be used safely. Do NOT use eclipse glasses or handheld viewers with cameras, binoculars, or telescopes in place of a solar filter.
ISO Safety Standard
Safe solar viewers and filters are thousands of times darker and
must meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard.
When buying eclipse glasses or other solar viewers, verify that the items have been made to that standard. Solar viewers should have "ISO 12312-2" marked on them somewhere. For more information on the safety standards and where to buy safe solar viewers, visit the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) website.
Alternate Viewing Methods
If you aren't able to get eclipse glasses or solar filters, there are indirect methods to watch the eclipse which do not involve looking directly at the sun.
Pinhole projection is the easiest as anything with a small hole can be used: crossing your fingers to make a grid, using a strainer or other object, poking a hole in a sheet of paper, or even just looking at shadows with gaps such as tree shadows. Simply stand with your back to the sun and hold up the object to cast a shadow on a flat surface.
Check out this video from NASA to learn how to make a box pinhole projector, a fun activity that can be done with kids to prepare for the solar eclipse.
Solar Projector, Solarscope, & Other Devices
Another option is solar devices made specifically for observing the sun, not just solar eclipses but other sun-related phenomena such as sunspots. One device is the Solar Projector made by AstroMedia, which comes as a kit for young adults and adults to make themselves. If you’re looking for something more advanced or that can accommodate a group of people, a device such as the Solarscope or Sunspotter may be an option, though the cost is higher.
One way to watch the eclipse on an unfiltered telescope is to use the Sun Funnel, a covered funnel attached to the telescope's eye piece for the sun to be projected onto. The AAS provides a tutorial on how to build and safely use a Sun Funnel.
Similar to pinhole projection, a telescope can be used to project an image of the eclipse onto a flat surface. However, this method is only recommended to individuals familiar with their telescope and under close supervision to prevent anyone from looking through telescope into unfiltered sunlight, possibly causing eye injury.
Watching the Eclipse Inside
If you aren't able to get outdoors to see the eclipse, don't worry! Organizations such as NASA will be livestreaming the event so that you can watch from your computer or phone. Check out this list of Livestreams & Webcasts from the AAS.
Sun & Heat Safety
Even during a solar eclipse, the sun will still be very bright. If you watch the entirety of an eclipse, you will be in direct sunlight for several hours during the time period when the sun’s rays are most intense. Take steps to protect yourself and your friends and family from the heat. Learn the symptoms of heat-related illness and what to do if someone is showing symptoms.
Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and apply it to all uncovered skin, remembering your nose, ears, neck, hands, and feet. Lip balms with SPF protection are also available.
Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours or more often if you’re sweating.
Be sure to read the label on your sunscreen to ensure you use it correctly.
Other Sun Protection
Since sunscreen does not completely block UV radiation, additional protections are needed.
In addition to sunscreen, wear clothing to reduce the amount of skin exposed to the sun, such as long-sleeve shirts, pants, and broad-brim hats.
Stay in the shade as much as possible. If you are in an area with limited shade, bring an umbrella to create your own shade.
Remember: Sunglasses are NOT safe to wear during the eclipse.
Staying hydrated is also important. Regularly drink plenty of fluids, regardless of how active you are.
Water and sports drinks are helpful for staying hydrated. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose sweating. Sugary and alcoholic drinks can worsen dehydration, so it’s best to pass on them.
Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, leaving the water in a shady area.
Get Eclipse Ready with SAPL
Join the San Antonio Public Library at these events to get eclipse ready
Witte Museum Events
Events hosted by the Witte Museum to celebrate the eclipse
NASA Hosted/Affiliated Events
Search for local or virtual events hosted by and affiliated with NASA
National Eclipse 2024 Eclipse Events
Listing of events around Texas for the 2024 total eclipse
Learn more about the eclipses, find fun projects, and get additional safety tips to get the most out of our upcoming eclipses.