Don’t want to fork out for rip-off solar eclipse glasses? Then there are a number of alternative ways of viewing the rare phenomenon – some of which involve household items including a colander and a mirror.
The total solar eclipse will take place on Monday 21 August, with the first people starting to see a partial eclipse at 15:46 GMT.
It will be visible across the USA, with 14 states getting a total eclipse and 50 seeing a partial eclipse. Sadly, people in the UK won’t be able to witness the rare phenomenon this time around.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the right part of the world to see it, remember that staring directly at the eclipse with the naked eye can ruin your eyesight by damaging your retinas.
Here are 5 ways to look at the solar event safely.
1. Make a pinhole projector
Perhaps the most well-known way to stare indirectly at an eclipse is to create your own pinhole viewer. All it takes is a couple of pieces of white card.
Use a pin to create a small hole in the centre of one of the pieces of card. Stand with your back to the eclipse and hold the perforated piece of card up so it gets the full force of the eclipse.
Then, use the second piece of card as a “screen” in front of you. The eclipse itself will be projected through the pinhole and onto the screen. The image will be inverted, but it will also be safe to look at.
2. Use binoculars to make a pinhole viewer
You can use binoculars in a method similar to the one described above to create a projected image of the eclipse on a piece of white card.
Face the large end of the binoculars towards the sun and cover one of the eyepieces. You can also use a piece of card to create a collar that fits around the body of the binoculars to enhance the effect.
The uncovered lens will project an image of the eclipse onto a second piece of card held about a foot away from it. You can use the focus wheel to adjust the image and, for the best result, attach your binoculars (a telescope works too) to a tripod.
Using binoculars will result in a sharper, clearer projection of the eclipse than using a card with a pinhole through it. Needless to say, don’t look through the binoculars directly at the eclipse.
3. Mirror the eclipse
A household mirror can also be used to view the eclipse. If you cover a small mirror with a piece of paper or card with a hole in it, it will project a pinhole image of the eclipse onto the far wall.
Make sure the hole is no wider than 5mm and you should be able to create a sharp image of the eclipse to project. Prop the mirror up and angle it so it catches the sunlight for you and you’re good to go.
4. Use a colander
Yes, a colander – stick with us here. It works in exactly the same way as the first sheet of card in the example above. The holes in the colander will project several images of the eclipse onto a piece of white card or paper held in front of you.
Make sure to stand with your back to the sun and hold the colander on your above your shoulder or next to your head.
5. Grab a bucket
Perhaps the most low-tech way of witnessing the eclipse this week is to simply fill a bucket with water and look at the reflection. Simple, really.