How to Survive a Solar Eclipse

Here are a few last-minute tips for anyone planning to view today’s eclipse:

1. Don’t stare directly at the Sun. Staring is rude. The Sun has been around for billions of years, and without it, none of us would be here. Show a little respect.

2. Don’t look at the Sun through sunglasses. The Sun receives no compensation from the sunglass industry for the use of its name. The Sun believes this is unfair. The Sun filed a lawsuit. The Sun lost. The Sun is still bitter. A pair of sunglasses pointed at the Sun is like a slap in the Sun’s face.

3. Don’t look at the Sun through those 3-d glasses you got when you saw Avatar a couple years ago. 3-d glasses make two-dimensional images appear three-dimensional. The Sun is already three-dimensional. Who knows how many dimensions it would appear to be if you looked at it through 3-d glasses? I’m guessing four, four and a half, or nine. That’s too many for your tiny human brain to process. It would explode, the way computers always did on the original Star Trek TV series whenever anyone asked them to solve simple logic puzzles.

4. Consider using binoculars to project an image of the Sun onto the ground. But don’t look through the binoculars at the Sun. Also, don’t look through the binoculars into your neighbors’ windows; if your neighbors are anything like mine, this makes them inexplicably testy.

5. Consider using a pin and a large cardboard box to make a pinhole projector. But – and I cannot stress the importance of this enough – remember to use the pin to poke a hole in the box, not in your eye.

6. Consider using your fingers as a pinhole projector. Hold your hands so that your fingers overlap at right angles and the spaces between them form pinholes. But resist the temptation to make shadow figures with your fingers. You’ll get distracted and miss the whole eclipse.

I hope this helps make today’s eclipse a safe and enjoyable experience. If you have any favorite eclipse-viewing tips of your own, please leave them in the comments.

44 comments on “How to Survive a Solar Eclipse

  1. Queen Gen says:

    Hahaha. I appreciate your doing the hard work in figuring out the maths on the number of dimensions we’d see through those 3D glasses. I would never have been able to get my mind around that one. I still sort of feel like I don’t know how many it would be but I’m convinced that “too many” is about right.

    • Laura says:

      The other cool thing about those 3-d glasses is that the glasses themselves are 3-d. Nature is full of these amazing coincidences.

  2. omawarisan says:

    Is it ok for me to look at the sun through the binoculars, if I am doing it to aim them at the sun to make sure I’m projecting correctly?

    • Laura says:

      No. That is NOT okay. You run the risk of accidentally pointing them at your neighbors’ windows, and trust me, you do not want to do that.

  3. Holly Folly says:

    Now I really, really want to try looking at the eclipse with my 3D glasses. except for the part about my eyeballs burning out. Never stare directly at the sun. That sounds like a challenge to me!

    • Laura says:

      The Sun would be disappointed to hear you say that. Just the other day the Sun observed that kids* today are so rude.

      *Compared to the Sun, we’re all kids.

  4. As someone who can’t even go outside when it’s cloudy without her eyeballs exploding into flames, I truly appreciate the advice.

  5. Still laughing about #1. Lots of helpful advice here… I am so prepared.

  6. Spectra says:

    This post has given me the idea I need to really enjoy the solar eclipse; I’m going to put 3D sunglasses on my binoculars, put my head in a box with a pin hole in it, drink some bong water and wet myself when I see 18 zillion simultaneous eclipses up there.

  7. Elyse says:

    I once did the box/pinhole trick while viewing an eclipse in Switzerland. The neighbors are still talking about it.

    Alas, I don’t think we’re going to get to see it here on the East Coast. :( Which is a shame cause I still have that box.

    • Laura says:

      Yeah, for some reason, solar eclipses are a lot less impressive at night.

      What did your Swiss neighbors do during that eclipse (or what would they have done, if you hadn’t been there with your pinhole box)?

      • Elyse says:

        They were no doubt cleaning stuff. That’s what the Swiss do. I once saw a woman cleaning her chain link fence during a rain storm. Yup. They were cleaning.

  8. List of X says:

    One more hint: this is supposed to be a partia lsolar eclipse only, and not a full eclipse. However, you can still be able to see a full eclipse, if you use the same large cardboard box from suggestion #5 above but do NOT make a hole in it

  9. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    I love your post, very well thought out, I am still smiling, well done. :D

  10. El Guapo says:

    Aren’t eclipses one of the main causes of Zombieism?

  11. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I had no idea there was going to be an eclipse. That’s one way to protect one’s eyes. Remain ignorant, remain healthy.

  12. There was an eclipse? I always miss it! Always! I suck.

  13. Al says:

    I took all your advice to heart and followed it to the letter. There’s no doubt you missed your calling and should be working for NASA as an astrophysicist. However, you left out one important thing, you should have told me I wasn’t in the viewing zone. My neighbors are still laughing at me.

  14. Drat. I have come to this valuable information too late and I have offended the sun. Cheyenne is in a permanent state of darkness. Any suggestions on how I can make amends?

  15. pegoleg says:

    We actually did that pinhole camera thing in science class. In COLLEGE. Yup – it was Science for Idiots 101 or something. I couldn’t see a thing in mine, which is one reason I was a business major.

  16. Wait… there was a Solar Eclipse?
    *sigh*
    Any hints/tips for guys who don’t even seem to notice there’s a SOLAR ECLIPSE?!
    Yikes. My face is red. And it’s not just a sunburn, either.
    :)

  17. Binky says:

    If I saw this yesterday, maybe I wouldn’t be half blind now!

  18. I did exactly what you recommended. I poked a rusty pin through my finger while looking through a monocle and holding a cat (I improvised a little; I’m a rebel). Worked like a charm.

  19. I wasn’t able to read this post because I was blinded by the recent eclipse. If only I’d visited earlier.

  20. Dana says:

    The other tip you neglected to mention: Move to Victoria, BC, Canada during the solar eclipse. Nice weather disappears here every time there’s something amazing to behold in the sky. We saw nothing but clouds and rain. On the plus side: I still have my vision, I didn’t accidentally spy on my neighbours, and I also didn’t poke holes into my eyeballs. ;)

  21. nursemyra says:

    Are you related to Sophia Herschel?

  22. nursemyra says:

    Oops sorry, I meant Caroline Herschel

  23. Barb says:

    I have several pair of those 3-D glasses. No I didn’t turn them in…so sue me…Buena Vista. Can I wear several at a time and cancel out the sun’s laser qualities or does that only work for seeing the Man in the Moon?

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