What you need to do to watch safely

A child watches from San Antonio last year with special glasses as the moon moves in front of the sun during a solar eclipse. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)

Grab your eclipse glasses — weather permitting, Los Angeles County and the rest of California will catch a glimpse of the rare total solar eclipse on Monday.

Unfortunately for eclipse fanatics on the West Coast, Californians will only be able to see a partial eclipse. From this state’s vantage point, the moon and sun will not line up exactly and only part of the sun’s disk is blocked, according to the Griffith Observatory.

The moon’s advance into the sun’s path begins at 10:06 a.m. and will have made a substantial bite into the sun’s image by 10:39 a.m. to the observatory.

Read more: How to watch the solar eclipse from California – and avoid heartbreak as you chase ‘totality’

Depending on where you are in the state, you will get a slightly different view of the solar eclipse. For example, in Los Angeles, half of the sun will be visibly covered by the moon, but in San Francisco only a third of it will be covered. Anglenos can consider that a victory.

NASA offers an online eclipse explorer map if you want to time your viewing just right.

This is a rare occurrence; the next solar eclipse visible from California won’t occur until 2044. To help you prepare, experts share how to view the eclipse safely, where to buy goggles, how to photograph the eclipse and who will host the public viewing parties in Los Angeles County.

How to watch the solar eclipse safely

The first rule of a solar eclipse is: don’t look at the sun without special eclipse glasses or solar binoculars. It is not safe.

Viewing the eclipse without protection will cause immediate serious eye damage, according to NASA.

The same rule applies to viewing the solar eclipse through a camera lens, binoculars, telescope or regular sunglasses. According to NASA, the concentrated sun rays will burn through the lens filter and seriously damage your eyes.

What you can use are solar binoculars or eclipse glasses that comply with the international standard ISO 12312-2. According to the American Astronomical Society, these glasses reduce visible sunlight to a safe and comfortable level and block all but a small portion of the sun’s UV and infrared radiation.

The association warns that some eclipse glasses are labeled as ISO compliant but have not been properly tested. Unfortunately, you cannot test whether the eclipse glasses are legit or not before purchasing them. Instead, the association shares a list online of reputable suppliers of eclipse glasses, viewers and filters.

Read more: ‘Unusually cold’: April storm bringing winter temperatures and low snow levels to California

Once you have a pair of eclipse glasses in hand, here’s how to tell if they’re safe. Through eclipse glasses you should only be able to see the sun (or something similarly bright) and nothing else. Some signs that the scope may not be safe include:

  • If you see shade lamps or other common household lighting fixtures, do not use them.

  • If you look at the sun through the scope and find it uncomfortably bright, do not use it. Safe sun filters ensure a pleasantly clear and sharp view of the sun.

The American Astronomical Society recommends against purchasing any eclipse glasses that pop up in Internet searches or online advertisements. What you can count on are glasses and binoculars from a science museum, planetarium or an astronomy fair.

If you purchase glasses or binoculars, make sure they are in good condition. If the scopes are torn, scratched or punctured, throw them away. If the filters become loose from their cardboard or plastic frame, throw them away.

You can also view the solar eclipse indirectly by using a pinhole projection. With the sun behind you, let sunlight pass through a small opening and project a sun image onto a nearby surface. Do not look at the sun through the hole.

There are several items you can use to make a pinhole projector, such as an index card with a hole in it, a pasta colander, a straw hat (with visible holes), or even your bare hands.

Experts such as Ed Krupp, longtime director of the Griffith Observatory, advise against staring at the eclipse for several minutes, even with proper eye protection.

Krupp suggests looking up to see the progress and then waiting about ten minutes before seeing what it looks like again.

Where can you buy eclipse glasses?

  • Several branches of the Los Angeles Public Library are handing out free solar eclipse glasses every day through Saturday, but only to the first 40 people who request them. The library’s main online calendar lists participating branches.

  • The Los Angeles Public Library will also distribute 21,000 pairs of solar eclipse glasses during the Los Angeles Maker Faire on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown.

  • The Los Angeles County Library branches are providing the community with protective eyewear while supplies last. The county has a list of branch locations and contact information so you can call ahead to check the branch’s offerings.

  • Participating Warby Parker locations will be handing out free solar eclipse glasses while supplies last. The prescription eyewear retailer’s website has a list of locations where the goggles are distributed.

Tips for taking a photo of the solar eclipse with your phone

Your eyes aren’t the only thing you shouldn’t point towards the sun. Your smartphone can also be damaged if you point the camera lens at the sun for a long time without a special filter.

In general, it’s fine to include the sun in a photo that’s focused on something else. For example, if you take a landscape photo that shows the sun, that is not a safety issue for the camera. If you are focused on the sun, place eclipse glasses or certified solar filters over the camera lens.

Read more: How to take a photo of the solar eclipse without damaging your phone

Eclipse viewing events

Eclipse events around Los Angeles all take place from 10 a.m. to Monday afternoon.

  • The California Science Center hosts hands-on educational activities and solar eclipse viewing, which is included with the center’s free general admission. Complimentary eclipse glasses will be available.

  • Cal State LA’s Honors College will provide its students and the public with viewing glasses and an area to view the solar eclipse between the Biological Sciences Building and the Annenberg Science Complex. For more information, call (323) 343-5969 or email honorscollege@calstatela.edu.

  • In celebration of National Library Week, 10 branches of the LA County Public Library are hosting an educational look at the eclipse. Participating establishments include Stevenson Ranch, El Camino Real, Lloyd Taber-Marina del Rey, Chet Holifield, Diamond Bar, Acton Agua Dulce, Manhattan Beach, Rowland Heights, Woodcrest and Lake Los Angeles. Call the participating location for more information.

  • Los Angeles Pierce College will host an eclipse party open to the public on the second-floor balcony of the Center for the Sciences on campus. Staff will provide solar eclipse glasses and have solar telescopes on site. Any questions or requests for special accommodations should be emailed to Dale Fields at fielddl@piercecollege.edu.

  • Caltech will host a viewing party for the public at the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics. Eclipse glasses will be provided while supplies last, and a solar telescope will be on site. During the viewing, astrophysicists will be available to help everyone make the most of the rare experience. For more information, visit Caltech’s website or email Cameron Hummels at chummels@caltech.edu.

  • If you want to watch the moon’s passing virtually, the Griffith Observatory will broadcast the total solar eclipse live on YouTube from Belton, Texas.

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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