How to watch the eclipse safely: ways to view 2021 solar eclipse from UK - and how to make a pinhole camera

It’s extremely dangerous to view an eclipse without the proper equipment – and doing so could lead to serious damage to your eyes

Today, 10 June, the first solar eclipse of 2021 is set to take place - and it’s not just any solar eclipse, but a rare “ring of fire” eclipse.

This is everything you need to know about how to make the most out of the rare natural phenomenon.

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How to view a solar eclipse safely?

There are a number of ways that you can make viewing the phenomenon safe.

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) says that “a simple yet safe way to view a solar eclipse” is by making a pinhole camera.

All you need to make your own pinhole viewer are two pieces of white card.

Poke a small hole in one piece of card and when the eclipse is happening, stand with your back to the sun.

A pinhole camera is a safe and easy way to view an eclipse (Photo: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Hold both cards up, with the one with the hole closer to the sun. The light through the pinhole will be projected onto the other piece of card, making the eclipse safe to view.

You can do a similar thing with a cereal box. Make a pinhole in one edge, point it towards the sun and you’ll see a small image of the sun projected on the inside of the box.

Alternatively, you can safely view the eclipse by watching a livestream of the event - the NASA YouTube channel is broadcasting the phenomenon.

The National Safety Council states that you should not use ordinary sunglasses - even very dark sunglasses - or look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device.

Are you excited for the eclipse happening today? (Photo: Kim Mogg / JPI Media)

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Why can’t I just look at the eclipse?

While the eclipse today is actually a partial eclipse, you still need to take care when viewing it, otherwise you can risk damage to your eyes.

RAS says that it “is extremely dangerous to just go out and look up”.

“The sun is so bright that just looking at it can blind you, so you’ll need to prepare beforehand,” RAS says.

RAS explains that “viewing an eclipse is dangerous because the sun’s photosphere emits very intense visible light that can damage the light sensitive retina at the back of your eyes if you look directly at the sun without proper protection”.

It adds that “you only need to luck at the sun for a few seconds for your eyes to become permanently damaged”.

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What time is the June solar eclipse?

The first contact will occur at 10:08am, peaking at 11:13am and ending at 12:22pm.

In the UK, the eclipse will be a partial solar eclipse, which means that the sun’s light will not be completely blocked out.

The eclipse is also described as an annular eclipse, which is when the moon doesn’t cover the whole of the sun’s disk.

NASA explains that an annular eclipse is “a solar eclipse in which the moon’s antumbral shadow traverses earth (the moon is too far from earth to completely cover the sun). During the maximum phase of an annular eclipse, the sun appears as a blindingly bright ring surrounding the moon”.

According to NASA, after 10 June, the next few eclipses will happen on 4 December 2021, 30 April 2022, 25 October 2022 and 20 April 2023.