Protecting your eyes during the Mercury transit

Today sky watchers will be able to see Mercury transit the Sun. This event only occurs 13 or 14 times each century so it has been featured quite heavily in the news, today and over the weekend.

Many people will want to see this but it’s very important to protect your eyes while experiencing the event. The College of Optometrists has issued the below advice for those wishing to observe the transit:

Don’t:

  • Look directly at the sun, even with sunglasses on – they don’t offer enough protection. You will end up looking at the sun for a longer period of time which can be damaging for your eyes. This is because the radiation emitted by the sun is so powerful it may cause a solar burn of the retina.
  • Don’t watch it directly through a telescope, binoculars, camera or camera-phone. Even if you are just lining up the projection, this still puts you at risk.
  • Use ‘eclipse glasses’, it’s unlikely you will be able to see the transit as mercury will only be a small point within the sun.

Do:

  • Watch the event through a broadcast link on the television, online or at specific viewing events.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, Clinical Advisor at the College of Optometrists said; “This is a rare opportunity to see the transit of Mercury across the sun, and people will be very excited to make the most of it. You may be tempted to look directly at the sun, but very important that you don’t do so, as this will put your eyesight at risk.”