On October 14th, the United States will see its first annular solar eclipse since 2012. An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth while at its farthest point from Earth. The Moon is farther away from Earth, so it appears smaller than the Sun and only partially blocks the Sun, creating a fiery halo effect. This eclipse will be visible in much of the west coast, as well as in Mexico, and many countries in South and Central America. To see the timing and path of the annular solar eclipse, you can head to the NASA website.
One of my early childhood memories is being told to never look directly at the sun. But thanks to solar filters, such as the ones in EclipSmart optical devices from Celestron, I can safely disregard that advice! Well, at least as long as I’m only looking through one of those solar filter-equipped devices.
Celestron has a wide range of products for safely viewing the sun, including solar filters for many of their high-end telescopes. They sent me two of those products that you can use to watch the annular solar eclipse.
EclipSmart 2x Power Viewers Solar Eclipse Observing Kit
The EclipSmart 2x Power Viewers Solar Eclipse Observing Kit is certainly one of the most affordable options for solar viewing. It also has built-in magnifying lenses to better observe the eclipse.
Here are the features of the kit:
- 2X SOLAR POWER VIEWERS: Go beyond traditional eclipse glasses. These foldable viewers feature plastic lenses with Solar Safe filters and 2x magnification to help you see more detail.
- SOLAR SAFE FILTER TECHNOLOGY: The filter conforms to the ISO 12312-2:2015(E) international safety standard for filters for direct viewing of the Sun. The ideal tool for viewing eclipses, sunspots, or the Sun any day!
- CONVENIENT TWO-PACK: Share the views with a friend on eclipse day.
- FOLDS FLAT WHEN NOT IN USE: Power Viewers are constructed of sturdy cardstock. They fold flat for storage and expand into mini binoculars when you’re ready to observe.
- DOUBLE-SIDED ECLIPSE MAP POSTER: The bonus poster is packed with information to help you have an unforgettable eclipse experience. One side features a detailed map of the eclipse’s path.
- SOLAR FILM MADE IN THE USA: Celestron Solar Safe film is produced in the USA by American Paper Optics, one of the suppliers recommended by NASA and the American Astronomical Society for safe solar viewing, and has been independently tested by a third-party lab.
- NATURAL ORANGE TINT: EclipSmart glasses reveal the Sun in the visible (white light) spectrum, but we’ve added an orange tint for a more natural look and a comfortable observing experience.
As opposed to traditional solar eclipse viewing glasses, these viewers are held in your hands, almost like a pair of binoculars. While not as convenient as glasses, these are more comfortable to use. The orange tint that Celestron added is quite pleasant, and easier on the eyes than the white image you normally get with a solar filter.
The kit also includes a convenient map and timetable for both this October’s annular solar eclipse and next year’s total solar eclipse of April 8th, 2024.
EclipSmart Travel Solar Scope 50 Refractor Telescope
If you want to get a better look at the solar eclipse, and in general get a better look at the sun, then you’re going to want to step up to something like the EclipSmart Travel Solar Scope 50 Refractor Telescope.
Here are the features of the telescope:
- 50MM SOLAR TELESCOPE WITH FULLY COATED GLASS OPTICS: This dedicated solar scope delivers sharp, detailed views of eclipses, sunspots, transits, and more. Perfect for eclipses or any day!
- SOLAR TELESCOPE FILTER: The dual-lens, non-removable glass solar filter conforms to ISO 12312-2:2015(E), Filters for Direct Observation of the Sun.
- PERMANENTLY ATTACHED SOLAR SAFE FILTER: Use your solar telescope with peace of mind, knowing the filter will not be knocked off or accidentally removed.
- INTEGRATED SOLAR SAFE FINDERSCOPE: Quickly and easily center the solar disk in the telescope’s eyepiece without looking at or near the Sun.
- STURDY ALT-AZIMUTH MOUNT & FULL-HEIGHT TRIPOD: Pan and tilt just like a photographic tripod so you can make precise adjustments to the telescope’s position.
- ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: You’ll receive a 20mm eyepiece, a hybrid star diagonal, an integrated solar safe finderscope, and a travel backpack to carry it all.
As opposed to a travel telescope that includes an attachable solar filter, this is a scope dedicated to solar observation with the filter permanently attached. This enhances your viewing safety.
The lightweight telescope breaks down and fits easily inside the small backpack that comes with the kit. There’s even room in the backpack to toss in solar eclipse glasses or the 2x viewers if you want to offer eclipse viewing options to friends and family.
The telescope is quick and easy to set up on the tripod. It includes a 20mm lens, which provides 18x magnification. As it is a standard-sized 1.25″ lens, if you own any higher-magnification lenses, you can use them with this telescope.
The EclipSmart Travel Solar Scope 50 Refractor Telescope uses an ingenious, low-tech method to center the sun in the eyepiece. You simply adjust the telescope on the tripod until the shadow appears in the bullseye of the target, as you can see below:
You will still need to make some fine adjustments on the tripod to get the sun perfectly centered in the eyepiece. The lightweight tripod isn’t as stable as one might wish, so you’ll have to work a little slower to lock down the view.
With the included lens, I got a much larger view of the sun than I did with the 2x power viewers. You actually are able to see sunspots and solar flares. There is no included orange tint either, so the sun will appear white on a black background.
Celestron EclipSmart Products — The Verdict
Eclipses are one of the more spectacular astronomical events to observe, and they also occur infrequently: this will be the first annular solar eclipse in 11 years. And Celestron certainly makes it easy for anyone to be able to enjoy the view.
For most, the EclipSmart 2x Power Viewers Solar Eclipse Observing Kit will be the perfect solution for viewing the eclipse. It’s less expensive than buying a meal at most restaurants and provides an enhanced view of the sun for two people. Some may find having to hold the viewers inconvenient, preferring to wear solar viewing glasses (which Celestron also sells). Personally, I prefer being able to see a larger image of the sun with the 2x Power Viewers, but your mileage may vary.
If you have more interest in the sun than just the occasional eclipse, then the EclipSmart Travel Solar Scope 50 Refractor Telescope is a good choice. It provides a much larger, focused image of the sun, and you can use additional lenses to enhance your viewing. It’s also light and compact enough to easily go with you wherever you desire for your viewing sessions. I wish the tripod moved a bit smoother and was more stable, but as I noted in my review of the Popular Science by Celestron Travel Scope 60 Portable Telescope, it’s the tradeoff you pay for the affordability and ease of carrying the telescope.
To check out these or any of the other EclipSmart products, head over to the Celestron website. And have fun viewing the annular solar eclipse on October 14th!
Celestron sent me these products to evaluate but had no input in this review. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn a small commission on qualified purchases.