Tech and Science

Here’s how to watch the solar eclipse safely using household materials

With the solar eclipse only a week awayIt’s time to think about how to view the celestial spectacle safely.

For those who don’t feel like it Buying solar eclipse glassesDr. Ilana MacDonald of the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto has a list of ways to protect your eyes using household materials.

On April 8th The moon will pass between the sun and the earth. When the moon directly coincides with the sun, it will completely shade it for several minutes. A partial solar eclipse will occur in southwestern Ontario just before 2 p.m., followed by a total solar eclipse at 3:12 p.m

“Staring directly at the sun for more than a minute can cause permanent damage to the retina. That means you’re actually burning the back of your eye,” MacDonald said.

“And you will be partially blind in one part of your eye.”

One way to keep your vision intact is to use a pinhole finder.

Take a piece of cardboard or an index card and punch a hole in it, advises MacDonald. The pinhole allows you to project an image of the sun onto a surface so that your eyes don’t have to look directly at the light rays.

MacDonald recommends punching the hole with a shape that isn’t a sphere so that the sun’s circle can show through clearly.

“You can see this circle gradually turning into a crescent as the moon passes in front of the sun. This allows you to safely observe the solar eclipse by projecting its image rather than looking directly at it. We call this an indirect viewing method,” MacDonald said.

To make it a little fancier, you can make a shoebox pinhole camera by cutting a hole in one side of a box, placing a piece of aluminum foil over it, and then poking a very small hole in the foil, she said.

Put it into action by going outside, standing with the sun behind you, and letting it shine through the hole so that the sun is projected onto the other side of the shoebox.

For those less skilled, she said any household object with holes would work.

“If you have a sieve or a cheese grater with holes or something like that, you can actually project the image of the sun onto a surface just using holes from everyday objects,” she said.

When you’re in the path of totality, it’s actually safe to look at the Sun without eclipse glasses, MacDonald noted, but only during totality, the one to three minutes when the moon completely covers the sun’s surface.

The Dunlop Institute is running Dozens of free workshops at the Toronto Public Library with a focus on safely observing the total solar eclipse.

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