Homemade ways to safely watch the solar eclipse, using your smartphone safely

Published: Aug. 17, 2017 at 5:42 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- If you can't track a pair of eclipse glasses down for your family between now and Monday, there are some everyday items around your house you can use to look at the eclipse safely.

These ideas are designed to keep you from looking directly at the sun on Monday, which, even with the eclipse, can do permanent damage to your retina. Watch the attached video for more details.

One method is to make a pinhole projector.

The easiest option is to cut a hole in a piece of paper, cover it with aluminum foil, tape it in place, then poke a hole the foil with a pin. Then just aim the pinhole onto another surface, like another piece of paper to get a look. You can even be more creative and poke multiple holes in the foil.

Another option is to use a cereal box. For best results, cover one end of the box with a piece of paper. Then make two larger holes on either side of the other end. Cover one with aluminum foil. Again, tape it in place and prick a small hole. Then hold the open larger hole in front of your eye, allowing the sun to shine through the pinprick and you should see a great image of the sun. It was so sharp Thursday, we could even watch clouds passing in front of the sun.

Another way to watch the eclipse is with a mirror. Direct the sun’s light onto a piece of paper and look at the paper. Be careful not to shine the mirror into someone’s eyes. You can even attach the paper to a solid surface like a wall in your house so you don’t have to hold it up.

As for the camera on your cell phone, Apple says you won't damage it by pointing it at the eclipse.

But again, you don't want to look at the sun without proper eye protection and that's going to be really hard to snap a photo without looking at the sun. Regular sunglasses won’t cut it.

However, some experts say the electronics in your phone could be damaged if it's pointing up at the sun for too long, like if you wanted to film the entire eclipse.

Selfie mode is a better option, but don’t expect a lot in terms of quality because those cameras are not designed to take photos of the sun.

Of course, there’s another great way to watch it safely, too. Tune into WSAZ. We’ll have complete live coverage from coast to coast from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday. We’ll also be streaming it on our website.