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I would like to watch the solar eclipse tomorrow, however I do not have sun-view glasses.

I know this question has already been asked for office supplies here, the only answer so far is the pinhole thing. I wonder if there is a better solution for that using home supplies so I can actually watch the sun through home-made glasses or something I can hold in front of my face.

Do you have any hacks on how to make sun-view glasses?


Oh darn... It was too cloudy to watch it at all. Thanks for the answers though. Now I know what to do in 2021!

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  • Oh, I almost voted to close this, before I even read your entire question. I think it's ok to ask it again this way, since you actually want something you can hold in front of your face.
    – Alex
    Mar 19, 2015 at 15:04
  • Yes I surely hope so, I think the pinhole thing is not enough and hoped there were more options since I am not limited to office supplies.
    – MissRarity
    Mar 19, 2015 at 15:08

9 Answers 9

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If you happen to be a bit of a welder - you can use shade 14 welder's glass which is basically a neutral density filter which will be enough protection for your eyes from the Sun's glare. This sort of material is usually available from some hardware stores and it can always be obtained online if not (I would add a link to somewhere you could get it but I would get a telling off so just Google "#14 Welder's Glass") - it is by far the cheapest alternative compared to professional filters and other such things.

You will have to make sure that the glass completely covers both of your eyes while you are viewing the Sun in order to avoid permanent damage to them.
You could get away with stacking a few lighter shades of welder's glass on top of each other and viewing through them as the lighter ones are sometimes more commonly available than #14. (Note: It is probably safe to use down to shade 12 Welder's Glass, but I wouldn't over expose my eyes to the Sun if you opt for going slightly lower than #14)

You can even place the glass over your binocular lenses so you can have a zoomed view of the Sun.

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  • Unfortunately I do not have access to welder's glass nor a hardware store. Thanks a lot for the answer though!
    – MissRarity
    Mar 20, 2015 at 8:59
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Even as now the solar eclipse is over I want to post an answer :) Please note, that it is extreamly dangerous to look into the sun directly, as it (the UV light) may damage your eyes irreparably.

It is recommended by all officials to NOT! use smoked glass or even welders glass (under #14), rescue blankets, CDs, X-rays or anything improvised. The risk of damaging or losing your sight is always there.

It is only recommended to use good specs made with the special filter foil or with a digital camera while using the screen (as @Izzo worte).

Perhaps, if you are a hobby astronomer or photographer, you might have the special filter foil you use to look at the sun with a telescope or camera to take good pictures of the sun at home. These filter foils are also availble in photographer shops. https://astrosolar.com/en/information/how-to/how-to-make-your-own-objective-solar-filter-for-your-camera-or-telescope/ I hope this link is okay. It`s a producer but also an astrolab and they have some building instructions. e.g. how to change a binocular using foil.

Otherwise just use a live stream :)

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You can use your smartphone to watch it, but only if it has a front camera. Use the front camera, and turn your back to the sun. You can then safely watch the sun on your screen and can even record it for viewing pleasure again and again. Do not use the rear / main camera on your phone unless you are wearing solar glasses, while the camera doesn't have retinas that could be damaged by the Sun's rays, your eyes still could be as you'll be facing towards the Sun to take any pictures / videos.

Sorry if you actually are interested in making some sort of glasses, but this tip might help some people.

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    I was actually interested in making glasses, but I have not been able to, because the smoked glass thing is unsafe, and I can't get my hands on welder's glass. Thank you for this, while it's not the perfect solution, it makes me able to watch it -sorta- :)
    – MissRarity
    Mar 20, 2015 at 9:01
  • Be careful with reflections. If the sun is behind you and you're angling the phone to catch a video of the sun, chances are that you'll also see the reflection of the sun off the (glass) face of the phone. This reflection might itself pose a danger to the eyes.
    – Lawrence
    Apr 11 at 18:06
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Some reflective coated polyester wrap ("mylar") has a metallic coating thin enough to faintly see light through. If you can just barely make out a bright light bulb through a single layer, it's as dark as the recommended welding filter.

Failing that, make a small pinhole in a sheet of opaque material, and use it to project a solar image on a piece of white paper. This image can be viewed safely in either an eclipse, or when the sun is unobscured (as for counting sunspots -- possible with the right setup and enough projection distance).

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Back when I was in Jr high, we used tinfoil and toilet paper tubes, and made our own in science class

Edit: Take two empty toilet paper rolls. Use a rubber band to cover one end of one with wax paper. Use another rubber band to cover one end of the 2nd one with aluminum foil. Use a pin to poke a tiny hole in the foil, then you tape them so it goes roll | paper end | 2nd roll | foil end... then you point the foil end toward the sun and look through the open end. You can see the light on the wax paper. I found pic...

sun viewer construction

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    Could you edit this to explain more about how you actually made them?
    – michaelpri
    Aug 15, 2017 at 13:17
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I don't know if I should use this method or not, but I was thinking you could take a peice of a CD and paint thin coats of dark blue or black nail polish or paint on it until the shade was dark enough (go outside and view the sun to see if it is dark enough, meaning the ssun would come up orange, and the only thing you could see)and then attach it to your glasses,cardboard or what ever you are using.WARNING:NOT RECOMMENDED,JUST A THOUGHT IN MIND!!!

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    This would simply refract the sunlight a bit and is just plain dangerous. This idea was common - and was debunked - just prior to the 1999 total eclipse over Europe.
    – Chenmunka
    Aug 17, 2017 at 7:30
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I’ve heard of folks using the smoked glass method, covering / sandwiching the sooted surface with another piece of glass to keep static.

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    – Community Bot
    Apr 10 at 15:12
  • And we have heard of the same people suffering permanent damage.
    – Stephie
    Apr 11 at 21:05
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something I can hold in front of my face.

There is a method, very much on the risky side but I have used it successfully without damaging my retina.

Direct sunlight hitting your eyes doesn't make you immediately blind. Almost everyone has eyes occasionally directed at the sun, and the immediate reaction of those people doing that is to close eyes and look away. The key here is that the reaction time of closing eyes and looking away is very fast, a very small fraction of a second. By reducing the amount of light, you can increase the safe viewing time over tenfold.

The problem of looking at solar eclipse is that people are intentionally looking at the sun for a long time, not a fraction of a second but maybe even over ten seconds. The heat gets built up on the retina, burning your retina.

However, you don't need any extra supplies to look at an eclipse, provided that you are very cautious.

You do it as follows. You place a hand inbetween one of your eyes and the sun, as close to the eye as you can. You almost but not completely close that eye. Keep the other eye completely closed.

Then you slightly open a small gap between two of your fingers in that hand that was blocking the sun.

The combined effect of having that eye almost completely closed and having only a small gap between two fingers, reduces the amount of light going to your eye. For extended periods, this is dangerous since it's hard to control exactly the amount of light entering your eye, and because the amount of light is still way too large for continuous viewing. But if you look only for a couple of seconds, while at the same time reducing the amount of light by a gap between two fingers and keeping the eye almost but not completely closed, your retina doesn't burn.

Don't do this for longer than about two seconds. If you want to observe a solar eclipse for a long period, you can make a pinhole camera with your fingers. Hold the left and right hand fingers at right angles, and open a small gap to fingers of each hand. This makes a handy pinhole camera that can be used to project image of the eclipsed sun to any surface.

Also if you want to repeat the exercise of using partially closed eye and your hand as a small aperture, wait for long time for your retina to cool. It's not safe to do this for two seconds, with two seconds of rest, then repeat ad infinitum. That'll burn your retina too. But two seconds of viewing, two minutes of rest, and two seconds of viewing again is probably safe.

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    That should give the asker two, at best three very very short glimpses for the duration of the totality and a few more during the whole eclipse. Not sure this is even remotely worth the risk.
    – Stephie
    Apr 10 at 5:54
  • @Stephie Yeah, it's not remotely worth the risk. I understand the 'see it with my own eyes' sentiment, but with the quality of cameras these days, even a surveillance camera should be good enough for casual eclipse viewing (indoors, on a monitor, not facing the sun, not facing even a reflection of the sun). It might still burn out the camera, but better that than burning out someone's retina.
    – Lawrence
    Apr 11 at 18:13
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Smoked glass. Take a piece of flat glass and a candle, wave the glass around in the candle flame so that black carbon soot is deposited on it. Make a thick, uniform coating (you may have to let it cool a few times and make sure to wear safety gloves to protect your hands and fingers - better yet, use a pair of tongs to hold the glass), and test it until it blocks enough sunlight.

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  • This sounds very hacky and interesting. Could you add some details on what you mean by until it blocks enough sunlight? Maybe you even have some pictures available?
    – Alex
    Mar 20, 2015 at 7:29
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    I looked further into this and saw on many websites (including NASA) this is unsafe, unfortunately.
    – MissRarity
    Mar 20, 2015 at 8:57
  • Downvoted because this is unsafe. You risk blindness when you get it wrong and don't make the glass dark enough. And the layer of soot on the glass is delicate, every time you touch the glass you will remove soot and make the glass lighter.
    – Hobbes
    Nov 13, 2015 at 20:24

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