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Five Gadgets to Watch the Solar Eclipse Without Glasses

18 August 2017

Solar safe binoculars are one way to view the eclipse without glasses. Source: CelestronSolar safe binoculars are one way to view the eclipse without glasses. Source: CelestronThe first total solar eclipse in nearly 38 years is coming, maybe you heard about it? Actually, given the buzz around the event, you would be hard pressed not to hear about the dangers of looking directly into the sun without proper glasses and how these glasses are completely sold out everywhere.

But there are other ways to view the event without having these incredibly in-demand glasses or without going on eBay and paying a ridiculous amount for a one-time event.

Solar Safe Binoculars

There are a number of these types of binoculars on the market right now in anticipation of the event taking place on Aug. 21. While many of them are also, unfortunately, sold out, you might be able to find one on a specialty site that is ramping up inventory.

These binoculars typically feature a solar safe filter to protect against solar radiation, including both infrared and ultraviolet light as well as 99.99 percent of visible light. The cool thing here is that not only do you get to see the eclipse but you get a better, closer view compared to glasses.

Refracting Telescope

The Eclipsmart Solar Scope 50 that runs about $99. Source: CelestronThe Eclipsmart Solar Scope 50 that runs about $99. Source: CelestronWhile these may also be hard to come by at this point, if you can find them, they might be the ultimate viewing gadget as they include a solar safe finderscope—ISO-compliant full aperture glass filter material for safe viewing, protecting against both IR, UV and visible light.

Much like binoculars, telescopes provide enhanced viewing with the ability to see much greater details of the eclipse with magnifications that can’t be found in either glasses or binoculars.

Solar Filters

This might be the best bet for getting something quick that doesn’t cost a lot of money and generally still available on the market. Solar filters are made through using a solar filter sheet, a piece of cardboard and some sticky tape.

Solar sheets are made of black polymers, which is the most common filtering material for observing the sun through binoculars, cameras or telescopes.

While a bit of do-it-yourself creation is involved, a solar sheet generally runs about $30, making it one of the most cost-effective paths toward viewing the eclipse.

Volvo’s Panoramic Moonroof Eclipse Viewer

The panoramic moonroof solar viewer. Source: Volvo The panoramic moonroof solar viewer. Source: Volvo While this probably won’t be one of the preferred methods most consumers will take to view the solar eclipse, it may be the most interesting.

Volvo has come out with a custom eclipse viewer for its standard panoramic moonroof for its 2018 XC60 vehicle. So you can sit in your car and watch the eclipse as it passes above you.

The eclipse viewer is made of ISO-certified 12312-2 material and features a magnetized frame to attach to the roof. It is the size of the panoramic moonroof allowing all five seats in the vehicle to view the event.

Volvo says it is also planning to live stream the eclipse in virtual reality and 4K, 360-degree video.

DIY Viewers

Instructions for building a pinhole eclipse projector. Source: PBS Kids Instructions for building a pinhole eclipse projector. Source: PBS Kids These run the gamut from being easy to slightly difficult.

The easy ones are super easy, all that it requires is leaf shadows from trees. Any tree will show off hundreds of visualizations from the eclipse. You can also use your fingers to show a shadow of the eclipse in action.

Slightly more complicated are pinhole viewers, where you need two thin sheets of white cardboard. Puncture a tiny hole in one piece and when the eclipse passes, stand with your back to the sun with the cardboard sheet with the hole above the other one. The eclipse should be inverted in view.

Advanced DIY viewers, such as the pinhole eclipse projector offered up by PBS Kids, require a bit more work. These viewers use a long cardboard box, aluminum foil, duct tape and cutting materials.

A small rectangular hole is cut at one end of the box near the top and a second hole is cut on the bottom of the box large enough to fit a human head. Aluminum foil is placed over the rectangular hole and duct tape around the foil to hold it in place. Then a tiny hole is made in the center of the foil. A sheet of paper is lined inside the box opposite the pinhole. With your back to the sun, place the box over your head with the pinhole behind you pointed at the sun until you see a small projection of the eclipsed sun on the paper.

To contact the author of this article, email Peter.Brown@ieeeglobalspec.com


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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

Date Event Location
30 Nov-01 Dec 2017 Helsinki, Finland
23-27 Apr 2018 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
18-22 Jun 2018 Honolulu, Hawaii
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