Most of us probably started looking for those special solar glasses a little bit too late, and discovered that they’re either much too expensive, or just flat sold out everywhere (and they are sold out everywhere around Sacramento, we’ve looked). So, what to do now if you still want to watch the eclipse? Build a cereal box viewer! Well, similar cardboard would work too, really.
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It’s a pinhole projector, and it’ll let you indirectly view the eclipse, safely, but still see the shape of the moon passing in front of the sun. Chances are that you’ve got everything you need in your house already, too. The things you’ll have to dig out are as follows:
White paper, just a single sheet
Instructions, verbatim from the website here:
Place a piece of plain white paper under the bottom of your cereal box, trace the shape and cut it out.
Tape the piece of paper inside the bottom of the box.
Cut two rectangles at each corner of the top of the box.
Cover the left corner with a piece of aluminum and tape to secure.
Poke a hole in the center of the foil with a nail.
When it’s time to view the eclipse, stand with your back to the sun and look into the right hole. The light will pass through the nail hole on the left and create a projection on the white paper in the bottom of the box. As the moon passes in front of the sun, watch the spot of light become a crescent and, during a total solar eclipse like the one passing over the U.S., disappear completely before emerging on the other side.
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Basically you need something with a perfectly round hole through it. This will project the shadow of the box onto whatever surface you have, and you’ll be able to see the dot of sunlight through the hole. Watch that dot, and you’ll see the eclipse as it happens, without having to track down a pair of those fancy glasses. Similarly, you can hold up a colander so that you can see all the dots of light on the ground, and watch as they become the sort of half/quarter-moon shape, similar to below: