You can help NASA out during this summer's solar eclipse

  • You can help NASA out during this summer's solar eclipse

You can help NASA out during this summer's solar eclipse

As a veteran of 16 total solar eclipses from six continents, I can say to you without any exaggeration that this is the most alien experience you can ever have on this planet - the sun goes out in the daytime, for heaven's sake! On that day, a partial eclipse will be seen in every state across the country, and a total solar eclipse will be visible across 14 states in the continental US along a 70-mile-wide stretch of the country.

The total solar eclipse that will happen on August 21 will give everyone in North America the chance to be a NASA scientist.

Eclipse glasses, which are made with special lenses to block out the sun, are the best way to protect your eyes.

NASA is recommending using glasses from only four different U.S.A manufacturers.

NASA recommends only using eclipse glasses with ISO 12312-2 printed on them which have been manufactured by one of four US companies: American Paper Optics, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical and TSE 17. Then you'll need to get a thermometer.

"If you can confirm that your glasses came from one of these five sources, you can feel confident that your glasses are safe", said Rick Fienberg, a spokesperson for the American Astronomical Society.

Young said that people should take the responsibility to verify that they have the proper viewing glasses and more so now that the eclipse is just a month away.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said it's a good idea to practice putting the glasses on with children before the eclipse.

"While NASA isn't trying to be the eclipse safety glasses 'police, ' it's our duty to inform the public about safe ways to view what should be a spectacular sky show for the entire continental U.S.", said Alex Young, Associate Director at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Several Boston-area libraries are participating, including the Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library, the Watertown Free Public Library, the Chelsea Public Library, and the Medford Public Library, according to NASA.

"If you look at anything else, it's just dark", Fienberg said. Only in the totality phase of the eclipse, it is safe to stare directly at the sun. Nevertheless, be careful not to touch or put any flammable objects near the eyepiece, the concentrated light can overheat the binoculars.

But, with a pair of eclipse glasses on, the spectacle is "God-awfully gorgeous", Fienberg said.