A solar eclipse can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can’t be missed. Although most people know what they are, they are still quite misunderstood on one specific topic – the strength of the Sun during this phenomenon. Here is what you need to know.
So, is the Sun stronger or brighter during a solar eclipse? Technically no, the Sun itself is not stronger during an eclipse, as its light is only being blocked by the Moon. However, the only time that it’s safe to look at a solar eclipse is when the Sun is entirely covered by the Moon, and this period can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Wearing protective eyewear, nevertheless, is strongly advised.
You can do a lot of damage to your eyes by observing a eclipse innapropriately.
That’s why you’ll often see Eclipse glasses for sale.
And you should absolutely invest in a pair if you do ever intend to watch this mesmerizing event.
This particular pair on Amazon are the ones to get. Besides, they are CE and ISO Certified and you don’t want to take any chances with safety here!
Nonetheless, let us now take a closer look at what happens to the sun during a solar eclipse and all you need to do to keep yourself safe!
What Happens To the Sun During a Solar Eclipse?
During a solar eclipse, the Moon is passing across the path of the Sun’s light, slowly blocking it out entirely for a short amount of time.
As the Moon slowly starts to block out the Sun, little by little, natural light on Earth begins to dim.
The event itself can be fascinating for spectators, yet many forget that the light from the Sun is exceptionally bright and can guarantee damage to the retina if you look long enough.
When the total eclipse comes, it becomes significantly darker outside, temperatures drop, and this is the only time it’s safe to look at the eclipse with no protection.
Make sure to have your dark glasses ready, as all it takes is for the Sun to peek out a little, and your dilated eyes could feel the burn.
It’s also important to remember that you may not feel any immediate pain from the Sun’s light peeking out from the side of the Moon as it passes, but it’s possible to develop long-term damage caused by the power of the sunlight.
A solar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are all aligned perfectly. This event is also correlated to a New Moon.
Now, if you were to stare directly at the eclipse as the Sun starts to slowly reveal itself, you’re going to be at risk of solar retinopathy.
As stated before, the damage will be done before you even know it, and this is because the retina has no pain receptors.
When it’s dark and your eyes are relaxed, they’re going to absorb any shred of light that appears from the passing eclipse.
Since the Sun’s power never changes, you’re still at risk of causing disruption of color vision, sensitivity to light, and even blind spots.
Is the Sun More Intense During An Eclipse?
The Sun itself is not more intense during an eclipse, but your eyes will definitely perceive it like it is. This is because, as the Moon blocks out more and more light, your eyes start to relax more and dilate in the dimmer lighting.
Since it’s only a brief moment in time that the Moon blocks out the Sun entirely, your eyes are at significant risk for even looking in its direction without protection.
In darker or dim lighting, your eyes don’t have the automatic reflex to squint or protect themselves from a sudden bright source of light.
With the Sun being a very powerful source of light, your dilated eyes are going to absorb it the moment it starts to shine past the Moon.
Although there may not be any pain receptors in the retina, that drastic change from dark to light is like a shot of ultraviolet radiation into the eye.
This is where health issues like corneal dystrophies and macular degeneration come from.
Even during a total solar eclipse, a majority of the Earth is still receiving sunlight.
As the Moon starts to pass and release more sunlight, the intensity of the sunlight will increase more.
That’s why you may be able to look at the edge for a second but, as more Sun is revealed, your eyes start to force you to look away.
Additionally, this is with the understanding that this occurs on a clear day without any cloudy interference.
Regardless, you still shouldn’t look directly at the eclipse, even on a cloudy day.
So, we know the Sun’s intensity never changes but, as more sunlight gets revealed, temperatures will start to increase, sometimes at a rapid pace.
This can also cause a quick atmospheric response in weather, and sometimes, even cause animals to think it’s evening time.
Why Is The Sun Stronger During An Eclipse?
The Sun itself emits the same amount of ultraviolet light; it’s only temporarily blocked by the Moon. Tricking the human eye into relaxing and dilating its retina.
What makes the Sun appear stronger is how the sunlight is incrementally released as the Moon makes it pass.
Because of the distance, physics, and how the sunlight reaches your retina, you cannot recognize how much light your eyes actually receive.
Even during a partial eclipse, it’s going to look like a total eclipse due to the distance of the objects and the effect the change in light is having on your eyes.
The sunlight has a more substantial effect on your eyes because this is one of the only times where your eyes can be dilated and still be receiving immense amounts of high-intensity light.
The worst part being, you would never know it until it was too late.
There’s also an effect called limb darkening, an optical effect that makes it seem like the edge of the Sun is darker than the center.
This will also trick your eyes into thinking it’s not as bright as it actually is.
An eclipse can cause this effect on the Sun yet, the whole time, the sunlight is still causing long-term damage to your eyes.
The Sun may not be stronger during an eclipse, but damage from sunlight does have a compounding effect on your eyes.
So if you damage your eyes once, it will only be worse the second time around.
Regarding limb darkening, this can be seen because of various symmetrical moments during the eclipse.
As more of the Moon starts to pass, the limb darkening effect will become less visible.
By this point, you probably wouldn’t be able to look directly at the eclipse anymore due to the amount of ultraviolet light being let through.
Is It More Dangerous To Look At The Sun During An Eclipse?
It is most definitely more dangerous to look at the Sun during an eclipse, no matter what stage the eclipse is in. This is because your eyes start to dilate, even though intense sunlight is still entering your retina with the same intensity.
As more of the Moon begins to cover the Sun, your eyes relax, and they dilate as the lighting starts to dim.
Every visual cue tells you it’s okay to look at the Sun as it’s not causing you any pain, your eyes aren’t forcing you to flinch away, and it seems dark outside so, why not look at the eclipse?
Although that may be true, your dilated eyes are still absorbing every bit of ultra-violet light that’s still passing around the Moon.
That’s why the only time it’s safe to look is during a total eclipse.
It’s the only time where that high-intensity light isn’t getting around the Moon.
Even with that information, it still isn’t safe to look during a total eclipse, as you cannot decipher when the sunlight actually starts to pass by the Moon again.
The moment it creeps past the Moon, your eyes are absorbing every bit of it while being wholly dilated.
You’re essentially giving a sunburn to your cornea, and you aren’t flinching away as the retina has no pain receptors.
An excellent visual representation would be holding a magnifying glass up to the Sun and looking directly into it.
The eclipse is causing a visual illusion that there isn’t as much light coming through as there is.
Pain is usually the leading indicator that protects us from harm.
Since you aren’t feeling the damage being done, you always have to understand the effects of sunlight and the physics of a solar eclipse.
If you decide to look directly at a solar eclipse, you’re just burning the cells off of each retina.
So, even though witnessing an eclipse is a fantastic experience and you want to catch every second of it, it’s crucial to always wear eye protection.
Get the ones below – you won’t regret it!
- BEST SOLAR OBSERVATION: While protecting your eyes, Rainbow Symphony's eclipse glasses create a sharper orange colored image to allow for safe viewing of the sun. The wrap around design blocks side light and helps them stay in place, while you watch awe-inspiring solar eclipses.
- CE & ISO CERTIFIED: Our eclipse shades are CE and ISO certified and feature an optical density of five or greater to filter out 100% of harmful ultra-violet, 100% of harmful infrared, and 99.999% of intense visible light, making it safe for direct solar viewing.
- EXPLORE THE SKY: These planet eclipse glasses are suitable for observation of large sunspots, planet transits for Venus or Mercury and other celestial phenomenon. Do NOT look through a camera, telescope or binoculars with ANY eclipse shades on! Children should use with adult supervision. Children should use with adult supervision.
- MADE IN USA: All of our eclipse glasses are made in America with quality materials, including scratch resistant black polymer. This eclipse viewing packet includes a glasses lanyard and a micro fiber pouch for storing and cleaning your glasses.
- MAKE A FRIEND: This packet includes 2 bonus paper eclipse glasses with the same high safety standard. So take them along to your next solar viewing and make a friend.
Hey, my name is Jeremy. I’m a passionate and seasoned astronomer who loves nothing more than observing the night sky. I also love researching, learning, and writing all things Space and the Universe. I created Astronomy Scope to share my knowledge, experience, suggestions, and recommendations of what I have learned along the way while helping anyone to get into and maximize their enjoyment of the hobby.