Sunday, April 05, 2009

It's Sun Day!

Today is Sun Day, the last full day of the 100 Hours of Astronomy celebration. Since most people can't stay up late tonight for more stargazing,today is a day aimed at (safe) viewing of the sun. So, look to see if you can find a solar telescope set up somewhere near you! If there are no events near you, you can try safely observing the sun yourself. If you are worried about doing so, or if it is cloudy, check out some online images and webcams from solar telescopes and satellites.

I can't overemphasize the need to be safe when observing the sun. Here's a list of some ways to look at the sun safely. Looking at the sun, even briefly, through an unprotected telescope can permanently damage your eyes. On a personal note, my ophthalmologist noted that I have some minor damage on my retinas, probably from unprotected viewing of dozens of sunsets from high altitude observatories. But that doesn't mean you need to be scared; you just need to be careful. Read this old blog post for a personal anecdote of someone who was a little overzealous about safe viewing during a total solar eclipse (about halfway through the story).

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