Everyone looks at the Sun now and then, and a quick glance won’t damage your eyes. But if you do more than glance, you’ll start to squint, your eyes will begin to water and hurt, and you’ll quickly turn away. That’s your body’s defense mechanism at work.
Trouble comes when you deliberately stare at the Sun. Why would you do that? To follow the progress of a solar eclipse, of course! But gazing at the Sun for any length of time without proper eye protection is terribly dangerous and may result in a serious injury in which the eye’s retina is damaged by solar radiation.
It is never safe to look directly at the Sun without a special-purpose safe solar filter. The one exception is during totality, when the Moon completely blocks the dazzlingly bright face of the Sun. On August 21, 2017, this will happen only within the roughly 70-mile-wide path of the Moon’s dark inner shadow from Oregon to South Carolina. Salem is in the near middle of this path, The Path of Totality,
But totality is fleeting, lasting at most 2 minutes 40 seconds. Most of the time during the two-plus-hour eclipse, you’ll be watching the partial phases, during which filters are always required for looking directly at the Sun.
The eclipse is a rare and striking phenomenon you won’t want to miss, but you must carefully follow safety procedures. For information about viewing the solar eclipse on August 21, please visit: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety