You still have time!
As everyone prepares for Monday’s total solar eclipse, it’s important to understand that viewing it with the naked eye can be extremely dangerous.
This week, People reported that a man damaged his eyes 55 years ago while viewing a partial solar eclipse in Bend, Oregon. Lou Tomososki, now 70, only looked at the eclipse for a few seconds, but he said he has had vision problems ever since. He’s now warning people against looking directly at the upcoming eclipse without protective eyewear.
“It doesn’t get any worse and it doesn’t get any better,” he said of his eyesight, which is now impaired because he burned the retina in his right eye. “You know how the news people blur a license plate out? That’s what I have on the right eye, about the size of a pea, I can’t see around that.”
Many of the protective glasses made for viewing the eclipse are sold out, and those that are still available may be counterfeit versions of the real thing. Luckily, libraries and other places are still offering free eclipse glasses. Check out STAR Net to find out if your local library is participating.
Warby Parker locations are also offering free pairs, but the company recently tweeted that its supply is “nearly sold out.”
And while some may attempt to DIY their own glasses, NASA has warned against some at-home fixes or using regular sunglasses to view the eclipse. But don’t panic if you didn’t get your hands on a pair yet. One DIY option is to make a pinhole project, which requires a few items you probably already have in your home. (Warby Parker’s website also offers a free download of a printable pinhole projector).
In this video, NASA Ambassador Tony Rice shows how you can make your own projector using items like a colander or a cereal box.
To make your own glasses, cut two holes at the top of the cereal box, cover one with tin foil and poke a small hole in the foil. Rice said, "the smaller, the better," when it comes to the hole size. With your back to the light, you can look through the other hole and see the shadow of the eclipse at the bottom of the box.
Paul Doherty, a physicist at Exploratorium in San Francisco, also showed how to make a larger projector in a video posted on NASA’s website. For this project, all you need is a pair of binoculars, a couple sheets of cardboard and a tripod.
“What you’re gonna want to do is face the open end of the binoculars toward the sun and the eyepiece toward a white piece of paper,” Doherty said. “And then you want to line it up, so that the sunlight comes in and through the binoculars and onto the paper.”
The American Astronomical Society lists 7-Eleven, Best Buy, Bi-Mart, Casey’s General Store, Circle K and other retailers as places to buy verified glasses. One online option is Amazon, which is currently offering a Lunt Solar Systems 5-pack set for $59.95.
But be careful about which items you buy. Amazon now has a warning label on its product page with the following message: "While this item is available from other marketplace sellers on this page, it is not currently offered by Amazon.com because customers have told us there may be something wrong with our inventory of the item, the way we are shipping it, or the way it’s described here."