Eclipse Day is here!
A total solar eclipse will cloak the sun in darkness in parts of 14 states on Monday, August 21, and people all over the U.S. will get to see at least a partial eclipse. Looking directly at a partial eclipse is dangerous, and the easiest way to view the eclipse is with a pair of eclipse glasses.
Unfortunately, most stores are sold out of these glasses, and most libraries and businesses that were giving out free pairs have already exhausted their supplies. Assuming that it's impossible to get your hands on eclipse glasses now, the next best option is to build a simple eclipse viewer.
There are a few different varieties of eclipse viewers, which all use pinhole projection so that no one hurts their eyes when observing the eclipse. In most case, all you need for the project is a cardboard box, some white paper, aluminum foil, tape, and an X-acto knife or scissors, and either a thumbtack, needle, or nail.
Here are three easy DIY options, all using materials you probably have lying around the house.
A meteorologist from CBS station in North Carolina offers simple directions on making an eclipse viewer with an empty box of Cheerios, Corn Flakes, or anything else you have handy.
Boys' Life magazine put together a basic instructional for making an eclipse viewer out of a shoe box. The whole video is only one minute long. Building your eclipse viewer will take longer than that, but not that much longer.
With a larger box—perhaps one from Amazon—you can make a pinhole viewer that can fit your entire head and provide what some say is a superior viewing experience. An NBC station in Washington state put together a step-by-step guide for making just such a viewer. In addition to the larger box, this version of the eclipse viewer recommends using part of an empty soda can rather than aluminum foil, because the can is more durable.
For good measure, you can check out this video from NPR, which shows five safe ways for viewing the eclipse. Some of the suggestions are perfect for lazy DIYers: You could just poke a hole in a manila envelope, for instance, or simply allow the sunlight to shoot through the holes in a cracker.