For the first time since 2000, a solar eclipse will be visible in North America on Monday, August 21.
The astronomy world is buzzing with excitement, but experts are warning people to be careful. Looking at the eclipse the wrong way can cause permanent eye damage.
“If you have the proper safety equipment, you will see the moon gradually cover more and more of the sun,” said Dr. Kelly Lepo of the McGill Space Institute.
If you want to look directly at the eclipse, you need certified eclipse glasses.
WATCH: For the first time since 2000, a solar eclipse was visible in North America, and Montrealers gathered together across the island to watch the rare occurrence
“Your glasses should say that they meet the ISO 1231-2 requirements on them. NASA and the American Astronomical Society recommend you buy from an American manufacturer,” Lepo told Global News.
Legitimate glasses will be given out for free at places like McGill’s Eclipse Party and other such gatherings across the country. But consumers should be aware: dangerous fake glasses have been making the rounds on Amazon.
“The only thing you should be able to see through your eclipse glasses is the sun. If you can see any other lights through them you should not use them,” Lepo said.
Looking at an eclipse with the naked eye or the wrong glasses can damage your vision or your child’s vision permanently.
“Just imagine taking a magnifying glass when you’re young, and burning an ant. It’s exactly the same thing,” said Dr. Rob Koenekoop, Chief of Pediatric Ophthalmology at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
He says kids’ eyes aren’t any more vulnerable than adult eyes, but youngsters are more likely to inflict damage on themselves.
“Kids, they’re reckless. They could be so curious and look at the sun for too long a time and get permanently damaged,” he said.
The damage can cause permanent blurred vision or cause vision to be obstructed by black spots.
Lepo says the best place to get eclipse glasses is from your local university or astronomy club.
The American Astronomical Society also offers a list of reputable vendors.
Lepo says if you don’t want to risk looking directly at the eclipse, there are ways to enjoy it without even looking up.
“You can use a pinhole viewer to project an image of the sun on the ground. You can even use something like a slotted spoon with holes in it, or a colander you would use to drain pasta,” she explained.
“Each one of those holes make a little image of the sun, so you will see little crescent suns projected on the ground.”