No Glasses to View the Solar Eclipse? We've Got You Covered

Article Date: Aug 17, 2017

Solar Eclipse

Maybe you didn’t find proper eclipse glasses, or you want to be on the extra safe side. You can enjoy the eclipse without even facing the sun. Here’s how:

1. Use your hands.

With your back to the sun, make a waffle pattern with your hands by holding one over the other with outstretched, slightly parted fingers. Look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. During the partial eclipse, small images of the sun as a crescent will appear.

2. Try Mother Nature

Look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse. Crescent suns will appear projected in the tiny spaces between the leaves.

3. Make a Pinhole Viewer

Try these DIY instructions from the Museum of Life and Science.

You will need:

  • Two pieces of white cardstock
  • Aluminum foil
  • Thumbtack
  • Tape

Instructions:

  1. Cut a one-inch hole in the middle of one piece of cardstock.
  2. Tape a piece of smooth aluminum foil over the hole.
  3. Using the thumbtack, make a pinhole in the middle of the foil.

Viewing the Eclipse:
Safety warning: Never look directly at the sun (even through a small hole)!

  1. Place the second piece of cardstock on the ground in front of you as a projection screen.
  2. Stand with the sun behind you and hold the pinhole cardstock out in front of you so the sunlight streams through your pinhole and onto your screen.
  3. What happens to the projection on the screen when you move the pinhole cardstock closer to it? What about further away

The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory adds this creative tip:

For extra fun, try poking multiple holes in your foil, making shapes, patterns and other designs. Each hole you create will turn into its own projection of the eclipse, making for some neat effects. Grab a helper to take photos of your designs for a stellar art project you can enjoy even after the eclipse has ended.

Not a DIYer? A similar effect can be accomplished by poking a small hole in an index card with a thumbtack or pin and – with your back to the sun -- holding it in the sun while holding a second card a few feet below in its shadow. A small image of the eclipsing sun will be projected onto the lower card. Large holes make bright but fuzzy images, smaller holes make dim but sharper images.

4. Stay Inside

Stuck indoors? You can still view the eclipse – if you have a good window – with this tip from SkyandTelescope.com. In a room with a sun-facing window, turn out the lights and pull the shades. Place a card with a small hole punched in it near the top of the window. Position a white piece of paper across the room so the sun’s image will appear on the white paper. Again, experiment with different sizes of holes – but never look at the sun, even through the tiniest hole. This approach depends on how high the sun is in relation to your window. For additional tips, go here.

5. Watch the experts

Get the best possible view of the eclipse by tuning into NASA TV’s live stream of the Eclipse Across America between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. CST.

The broadcast will have live coverage from 12 locations using airplanes, ground telescopes and 57 high altitude balloons.


Don’t forget about your furry friends! Dogs and cats should remain indoors with the shades drawn during the eclipse to protect their eyes, too!


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Ways to Watch via NASA