Most telescopes will have the power to look directly at the moon. But should you observe it? Can the moon’s light reflection damage your eyes and do you need to be careful? I spent some time researching to find out what the experts recommend in regards to this celestial body.
So, is it safe to look at the moon through a telescope? It is safe to look at the moon through a telescope, both during the night and during the day. However, if you are observing the moon during the day, you need to be very careful not to look directly into the sun, or accidentally move your telescope in its direction. This will likely cause eye damage.
The moon is one of the most interesting objects to observe in the sky. Thankfully, it does not require a significantly powered telescope to see it either.
Even a relatively cheap 70mm Newtonian reflector should give you pretty impressive views, although a telescope of greater power will be much more insightful.
In fact, observing the craters and the lunar surface is something that the more powerful telescopes can do.
Let us now take a closer look at some of those similarly related questions you may have, such as whether the moon can cause eye damage when the best time to observe the moon is and whether or not it is worth observing in the day.
Can Looking At the Moon Through A Telescope Damage Your Eyes?
Looking at the moon through a telescope should not damage your eyes. This is because the moon does not emit its own light, instead of reflecting light from the sun.
These reflections are not considered powerful, nor considered anywhere near to the same level of intensity as of that of the sun.
That being said, there is the possibility that looking at a full moon can cause some discomfort.
This is precisely why moon filters, such as these best-sellers on Amazon, are available and found on the marketplace.
They are able to safely neutralize the brightness of the moon at times of peak reflection, making it more comfortable to observe.
With all this being said there is one exception.
You should not observe the moon with a telescope during a solar eclipse. During this time you can damage your eyes and it comes strongly advised to not look into the sky during this time altogether.
When Is The Best Time To Observe The Moon?
The best time to observe the moon through a telescope is during the first 6-9 days following the new moon. This is otherwise known as the first quarter.
This is when most of the detail is visible, especially around the ‘terminator’ which is the dividing line between the illuminated (dayside) and the dark (night side) of the Moon.
No, in this case, it is not Arnold Schwarzenegger.
During this time you’ll also notice the moon to be much more comfortable to observe, and you can see great surface detail regardless of the telescope or astronomy binoculars that you use.
So, believe it or not, the best time is not when the moon is at its brightest. So, its not ideal to look at the moon during its full phase. If you do so, you’ll likely realize it looks somewhat flat and one-dimensional.
All of the details, shadows, and crevices, etc. are overpowered by the light of the sun.
Can You Look At The Moon Through A Telescope During The Day?
You can look at the moon through a telescope during the day, and you can even get some great views if the atmospheric conditions are right.
In fact, several astronomers have noted that a great time to observe the moon is just before the sky becomes fully light, around the 6-8am time depending on the time of the year.
It is speculated that this is because your eyes are not fully dilated at this time, so you get a better resolution (f ratio) through your equipment.
Equally, the atmosphere tends to have less reflected light at this time, so more detail of the moon can be observed.
With all this being said, it does come with a huge caveat.
You have to be so very carful of the sun!
Looking either directly at the sun, or even through reflection off other surfaces is sure to cause damage to your eyes, and a lot of discomfort.
Its also pretty easy to navigate in the direction of the sun unintentionally so you have to be vigilant.
One other thing to note is that cheap or low-quality solar filters have been known to overheat and even crack when in use. So again, you need to be very careful if you ever did decide to use them, how and when.
That being said, while observing the sky is best at night, it is generally safe to observe most celestial objects during the day.
Mercury, in particular is one of the better planets to look for (especially around dusk).
If you are looking to observe the sky in the day, one approach that tends to work well is to get into the shade of a large building.
You can use it to shield off the sun, so long as enough of your object is still visible and it is not too close to the sun (which should mean refraining from observing entirely).
The moon is a wonderful celestial object to observe, even if you cannot see the infamous flag. Nevertheless thankfully, we can still see a lot of what it has to offer without having to worry about the risk of eye damage!
If you have ever attempted to do so while it is full and bright, you may have experienced some discomfort. Rest assured, this is just your eyes adjusting and no permanent damage should be done.
If you did want to prevent this from happening again however, do consider moon filters for your telescope. They can give you back a lot of comfort and enable you to observe the moon more freely.
With all this being said, we should always be careful.
Never attempt to observe the sky during a solar eclipse, and if you do ever decide to look at the sky during the day, stay well away from the sun!