Why can’t you look directly at an eclipse?

An eclipse is just the sun being partially concealed by the moon. So the parts of the sun that you can see are as bright as they are at normal times. But because so much of the sun is shaded, less total light reaches you, so you don’t have the same reactions, like squinting turning away and restricting the size of your pupil, to let less light in and protect your eye.

So the brightness of the sun’s surface is being focused onto the back of your eye, for a long time, at more than the usual brightness. This causes damage.

When the bright surface of the sun is fully covered, then it is safe to admire the spectacular sight of the sun’s outer corona. But make sure to put proper solar glasses back on as soon as any of the sun becomes visible. Yeah, you really shouldn’t look at the sun.

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