A total solar eclipse is safe to view directly during totality, when the Moon completely covers the Sun and only the corona is visible. However, before and after totality or during partial or annular phases of the eclipse, the visible sun is almost a million times brighter than the corona; eye protection is necessary for safe viewing of the eclipse. Luke Cole amassed a collection of eclipse viewers–special glasses with filters specifically for viewing the eclipsed Sun–from eclipses since 1793.
The collection was donated by Nancy Shelby of San Francisco, CA in memory of her late husband, Luke Cole, who collected the eclipse viewers. The liaison with Williams College’s Hopkins Observatory was arranged by Skip Cole, Williams College class of 1957.
The display below includes the eclipse viewers, as well as many historical eclipse postcards and various publications. Please select an image for a larger view.