By Edward Cardenas

SOUTHFIELD (CBS Detroit) – Sky watchers in Metro Detroit will be able to view a partial solar eclipse Thursday afternoon, but if they do, it should be done safely.

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Much of North America will be able to view the partial eclipse – which occurs when the new moon blocks part of the sun from view – before sundown. The eclipse will begin in the Detroit area at 5:39 p.m. Thursday, and will have a maximum eclipse at 6:36 p.m. Thursday, NASA states.

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While solar eclipses are rare, star gazers should take care when trying to view it. Watching it with the naked eye could result in permanent eye damage or blindness.

NASA shares the following the recommendations to safely watch the eclipse:

  • The safest and most inexpensive way to watch a partial solar eclipse is by projection. Place a pinhole or small opening in a card, and hold it between the sun and a screen – giant sheet of white paper works – a few feet away. An image of the sun will be seen on the screen. Projected images of the sun’s crescent during an eclipse may even be seen on the ground in the small openings created by interlacing fingers, or in the dappled sunlight beneath a leafy tree.
  • The sun can be viewed directly only when using filters specifically designed for this purpose. Such filters usually have a thin layer of aluminum, chromium or silver deposited on their surfaces.
  • There are sun-specific telescopes available for sale that are also safe for viewing a partial eclipse.
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Even if sky watchers uses these methods, NASA recommends not staring continuously at the sun and take breaks. Additionally, regular sunglasses don’t offer sufficient protection.