If you waited until the last second to buy eclipse glasses, you’re either standing in line with the folks above, or out of luck. Given the long lines of people camping out for eclipse glasses, it’s very likely that if you don’t have them already, you won’t be able to find them. But it’s ok. 🙂 Here are a few alternatives if you don’t have glasses but want to watch the eclipse:
- Share glasses with a friend. You don’t have to follow the eclipse second-by-second. An eclipse is a multi-hour event, and the sun isn’t moving that fast. Just pass the glasses around and let everyone take a peek.
- Build a pinhole camera. Imagine a tiny little movie theater that you wear on your head. That’s essentially what it is. They can be constructed quickly and easily using a medium/large cardboard box, a sheet of aluminum foil for the pinhole, a sheet of white paper (for the viewing screen) and some glue or tape. You can build an even simpler version using just a sheet of paper with pinhole and a second sheet for the screen, but the box makes it *much* nicer to view.
- If you have a welding supply store nearby, buy a piece of #14 welder’s glass and watch the eclipse through it. Note: Do *NOT* buy a lesser tinted welder’s glass, or try to “stack” two or more pieces of welder’s glass. #14 blocks both visible and infrared light well enough to be safe. Lesser tints may block the visible but allow the infrared through. You wouldn’t know you were in danger, but the invisible infrared light it lets through would be injuring your eye, perhaps permanently.
- Find a local astronomy buff with an eclipse-viewing setup. Eclipse days are days these folks live for. They often have telescopes with professional solar filters that will give you the best possible view.
Here’s how *NOT* to watch the eclipse:
- Don’t use sunglasses. They don’t block enough light, and you can seriously injure your eye looking at the sun through them. Don’t “stack” sunglasses either, as you can still injure your eye from the invisible infrared light they let through.
- Don’t use film or smoked glass. Again, just because something is dark enough to block visible light, doesn’t mean it’s blocking infrared light, and infrared light can seriously injure your eyes and you won’t know it until it’s too late.
- Don’t use binocular or telescope without a professional sun filter. Have you ever seen someone set a fire using a magnifying glass? In this situation, your eye is the magnifying glass, and the fire is inside your skull… No bueno…