Chances are, if you’ve run out to a store to try to nab a pair of solar eclipse glasses to watch the astronomical event, you’ve either found them out of stock or at an astronomical price.
Some have the misconception that because the lunar dusk covers the sun, it’s safe to look at the sun without eye protection. However, some part of the sun’s core will be visible during the event, meaning eye protection is a necessity to avoid possible damage of the cornea of your eyes.
According to NASA, you cannot safely view the eclipse with a regular pair of sunglasses.
But if you’ve struck out at the getting the glasses, don’t fear: There are solutions to that problem.
You can still make a makeshift solar eclipse viewer at home for basically free. The viewers are similar to the solar eclipse glasses and have the same effect.
Here’s a way to make the elusive glasses at home, with a just a few tools and steps, and a few more to make a solar eclipse viewer ahead of the August 21 event, according to and Motherboard‘s Jacob Dube and NASA:
Solar Eclipse Glasses
– A lens: Number 14 Welder’s Glass purchasable at a hardware store such as The Home Depot. This is an important step because you need to correct type of lens. Click here to learn more about the correct lens needed.
“Look at the sky, you should see absolutely nothing,” Paul Delaney said to Motherboard. “If you can see anything through your solar glasses, with the exception of the Sun, then throw them away.”
– Large piece of cardstock
– A roll of tape
– A pen
What to Do
1. Using the pen, draw an outline of the of the “handlebars” for the glasses — what goes around your ears — and the actual lenses. Use this template for assistance with an outline, if needed.
2. Cut the outlines with the scissors.
3. Using the tape, seal the the pieces of the cardstock you just cut out together so they resemble glasses.
4. Cut out a size of the lens that fits over the holes on cardstock cutout.
5. Tape the lens cutouts on the inside of the glasses frames.
5. You’re done!
Here are some other options for viewing the eclipse.
Cereal Box Personal Theater
– An empty cereal box
– A Piece of aluminum foil
– A small nail/pushpin
What to do
1. On a white piece of paper or cardboard, trace the bottom of the box, then cut out the rectangle with scissors and tape it to the bottom of the opened cereal box. That will be used as the screen of the personal theater.
2. Next, simply cut out two squares on the top/lid of the box that measure about 1.5 inches and tape the lid securely back together.
3. On one of the squares you just cut out, cover the hole in aluminum foil and tape it down. Next, apply the small nail/pushpin through it. This will be your lens and hole that the eclipse will project through.
4. When using your new box theater, you will have to turn directly away from the sun and allow the rays to shine through the small hole made with the nail/pin. To see the eclipse as it happens, look through the other hole in the lid — the one without the foil — and you should be able to see a projection of the eclipse safely.
Use Your Hands to View the Eclipse
You’ll just need your hands for this way.
What to do
1. If you don’t have any of the tools necessary to make a pinhole solar eclipse viewer or don’t have a pair of the glasses, you can just use your hands to view it.
2. Start by looking away from the sun and “crosshatch” your fingers so that they make tiny holes. Do that by simply placing one hand over the other in a perpendicular fashion so your fingers look like a waffle, so to speak.
3. During the eclipse, look away from the sun and look at the sun’s rays on a sidewalk or a building. Do NOT look directly at the sun through your fingers.
You can also use kitchen gadgets such as a strainer or a spoon with small holes in it to check out the projection of the eclipse safely.
For additional ways to make your own solar eclipse viewer that require a few more tools and resources, check out the list compiled by the American Astronomical Society.