The Sun is an amazing object, but the first, and main, concern when when you want to observe it is to protect your eyes! The sun is very bright. Never look directly at the sun! Looking directly at the sun can damage your eyes or lead to blindness. Using sunglasses or other filters not specifically designed for viewing the sun is not enough; you will still damage your eyes! Never look through unfiltered binoculars or telecopes at the sun!
There are some safe ways to view events like solar eclipses, sunspots, and planetary transits without damaging your eyes. Whichever method you choose, always make sure that your equipment is undamaged (no scratches or holes that would let direct light hit your eye) and always look away from the sun before removing your viewing device!
Special glasses, filters, or other devices designed to dim the light from the sun enough for safe viewing. Make sure that your viewer is rated for looking at the sun. Regular sunglasses do not dim the sun enough to avoid eye damage! You can find solar viewers online.
A #14 welding helmet or other welding glass is also safe for viewing the sun. Make sure the glass is #14; a lesser rating will not protect your eyes!
How most viewers are used: Be sure to check the instructions for your specific viewer before use, but here is how they are generally used. Start out turned away from the sun. Hold the viewer in front of your eyes and look through it. Make sure to keep the viewer up the entire time you are looking in the direction of the sun! Turn away from the sun BEFORE you lower the viewer. At our event, we will be handing out viewers. You can also purchase them online, for instance at Rainbow Symphony
These are easy-to-make set-ups that cast an image of the sun onto a screen. Make sure to only look at the image of the sun; do not look through the pinhole to the sun itself! Fancy pinhole cameras can be bought online, or you can make one yourself from a couple sheets of paper or a carboard box. Fancier ones can be made from binoculars. Check out these instructions on how to make a simple pinhole camera
, or an even simpler one from a cereal box
There are specially made filters for telescopes that allow you to look through them at the sun safely. These filters dim the light of the sun. Only use filters rated for looking at the sun, and use one that fits your telescope. Make sure that the filter is undamaged and properly placed before looking through the telescope!
Links for more information:
Nasa's safe solar viewing