How to DIY a simple eclipse viewer out of a cereal box if you don’t have glasses

Dino discovery.
Dino discovery.
Image: Reuters/Pichi Chuang
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Finally tuning in to this totality thing? Don’t have eclipse glasses? If you’re tempted to use Amazon prime to overnight a pair, be wary, the company has recently recalled fakes. And of course, you’ve heard the stories about the permanent damage you can do to your eyes by looking directly into the sun.

Good news is you can make a super-simple and safe viewer out of a cereal box. I did this with my dad when I was little, and I remember thinking he was a total nerd for building something out of tinfoil and a box. Until we used it.

Here’s a handy NASA video that walks you through it.

Supplies: An empty cereal box, scissors, tin foil, tape, a piece of white paper, a nail (or something sharp to make a pinhole.)

Here are the steps:

  1. Empty a cereal box
  2. Get a piece of white paper
  3. Stand the box on it, and trace the bottom
  4. Cut out that shape
  5. Tape it to the inside of the box on the bottom
  6. Close the top of the box
  7. Cut out two square holes on the left and right sides
  8. Place the tin foil over one of the holes
  9. Tape it down
  10. Put a pinhole in it

You’ll want to stand so the sun is behind you and you can see the shadow you are casting.

You’ll hold the box up, like a flute, so that the so that the eclipse can reflect onto the tin foil.

When you look into the other opening on the box, the sun should incrementally disappear on the white paper.

And yes, building it is totally nerdy. If you’d like to round that out with a little 1970s music, here’s some Manfred Mann’s Earth Band for your theme-track.