Solar eclipses existed before solar eclipse glasses – and if you didn’t get your pair of glasses in time for Monday’s eclipse, you can still turn to other methods of viewing the phenomenon.
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Here are a few ways to see the eclipse without glasses:
▪ Tree shadows. The spaces between leaves will cast shadows showing the circle of the moon crossing the sun during the partial phases of the eclipse.
▪ A pinhole viewer. Take two sheets of white cardboard or two white paper plates and punch a tiny hole in one of the pieces. During the eclipse, stand with your back to the sun, hold the sheet with the hole above the other, and an image of the sun will show up on the paper without the hole.
▪ A shoebox or cereal box viewer. Put a piece of white paper along the bottom of a shoe or cereal box. Then cut rectangular holes in the top corners of the box. Cover the left hole with aluminum foil, then poke a hole in the center of the foil. With the sun behind you, look into the right square. A projection of the eclipsed sun will be visible on the white paper inside the box. A video tutorial is available online at www.kansas.com.
▪ Use a colander or a cheese grater to make small eclipse images, similar to how the pieces of paper work.
Greg Novacek, physics and astronomy educator at Wichita State University, said many of these methods of viewing the eclipse operate under the same premise, using a small hole to show the effect of the moon on the sun.
Seeing through a pinhole is “not quite the same as looking at the image through the eclipse glasses, but it’s the same idea,” Novacek said. “You’re going to see the sun with a bite out of it either way.”
People who are disappointed they didn’t get eclipse glasses still have the chance to experience the other effects of the eclipse on the environment.
The temperature will drop, shadows will seem sharper, birds may roost and animals will be confused as it turns to dusk in the middle of the day.
“To me that’s another part of the eclipse experience, seeing how the environment is changing around you,” Novacek said. “You don’t need any glasses to experience that.”