The sun is our nearest star and a warm light in the cold depths of space. It can also be a tantalizing target for skywatchers during solar eclipses and rare planetary transits across its surface, when viewed from Earth. But the sun is, first and foremost, a bright star and observers must take care during observing sessions.
Warning: NEVER look directly at the sun through binoculars, a telescope or with your unaided eye. Serious eye damage and even blindness can result. Scientists and experienced skywatchers use special filters and glasses to safely observe the sun. Some methods are described in the SPACE.com Infographic above.
One of the easiest ways to observe the sun is with a pinhole projector. To make one, you will need two cards. One card should have a small hole punched in it, while the other card remains blank. The light through the card with the hole can then be projected onto the blank card, allowing a solar eclipse or large sunspots to be seen.
A pair of binoculars can also stand in for the pinhole, with the light from the sun being projected onto the blank card through the eyepiece.
Special eclipse glasses and welder's goggles rated at 14 or higher are also acceptable for solar viewing.
NEVER use regular sunglasses to observe the sun as they do not provide adequate protection.
Karl's association with SPACE.com goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. Starting in 2010, Karl has been TechMediaNetwork's infographics specialist across all editorial properties. Before joining SPACE.com, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web. He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Karl on Google+.