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Today, July 21 will witness the longest full solar eclipse of the 21 century. The duration is expected to go beyond 6 minutes at Taregana village, Bihar which has been identified as the best spot to witness the celestial display.

For those of you in northeast India, you will be able to see the eclipse since 5.15 am and for the rest of India it will be visible at around 5.30 am or 5.45 am.

Courtesy: BBC (The No. 1 News Channel for Reliability)

Seeing a total eclipse is a fantastic experience. But without proper preparation it can also be very dangerous to the eyes.
*No pain does not mean no damage
*Viewing the partly eclipsed Sun without protective equipment will result in a retinal burn.

Depending on how long the retina is exposed to the Sun, this injury may cause permanent damage to vision.

There is no pain when the retina is being burned, and the resulting visual symptoms do not occur until at least several hours after the injury has occurred - by which time it is far too late.

How can you view the eclipse safely?
Totality rarely lasts longer than a couple of minutes, depending on your location on the eclipse path; and for most people, only a partial eclipse will be visible. Although the sky will become very dark, it will not be safe to look at the Sun without proper equipment and viewing techniques.

Indirect viewing
Most health professionals recommend the simple pinhole viewer. You can make this with a cardboard box or with two pieces of stiff card. Punch a tiny hole in one of the cards and, with your back to the Sun, hold the card up so that light falls through the hole, projecting an inverted image on to the other card. Do not look at the Sun through the pinhole.

Direct viewing
*Many eclipse watchers may want to view the totally or partly eclipsed Sun directly.
*Special eclipse viewers made of either aluminised polyester or a very dark polymer material are available but these cannot be guaranteed to be totally safe.

The filter material is usually mounted in a cardboard frame that can be worn on the head like eyeglasses, or held by hand in front of the eyes. Which design you use is a matter of personal preference, but viewers bearing the "CE" mark from Europe may be more safe. If you do choose to use a viewer, always follow the manufacturer's advice. A shade number 12, 13, or 14 welder's filter can also be used.

Don't use dangerous substitute filters

# Materials that should not be used as solar filters include: Sunglasses
# Photographic neutral density filters
# Smoked glass
# Polarizing filters
# Compact discs
# Floppy disk media
# Black colour film
# Any black and white film negatives bearing images.

Children's safety

The spectacle-shaped viewers may be too large to be worn securely by some children. While older children may wish to use eclipse viewers, very young children should only watch the eclipse on television, or with an indirect viewer. All children should be closely supervised while watching an eclipse.

A total eclipse is a beautiful sight to behold. Enjoy watching it safely.

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