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  1. We would need to protect our eyes by shielding them from unfiltered sunlight to view the stars on the moon.

  2. We would protect our eyes from unfiltered sunlight to view the stars on the moon.

Sentence 1 is from a science book. I wonder we would need to add the word "shield" as it means the same with the word "protect".

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The two words are not exactly synonymous. A shield is used to protect you from something. However, it is still correct to say

We would [need to] protect our eyes from unfiltered sunlight to view the stars on the moon.

The author is just being complete by stating how you are protecting your eyes. You are protecting them by shielding them.

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The first sentence specifies how you intend on protecting your eyes since there are multiple ways of doing so. In this case, the author specifies that your eyes should be protected by shielding them from unfiltered sunlight. This probably means that you wear some sort of special goggles that can filter out the bad light.

The second sentence only says that you intend on protecting your eyes, but doesn't specify what you should be doing to protect them.

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the words are synonyms (similar meaning), and in this case, mean the same thing

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    @learner Not exactly the same thing. "Shielding" may imply you use a barrier so as to protect. Protect is more genetal than protect by shielding IMHO. – Cardinal Sep 21 '16 at 10:59

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