Solar eclipses can occur as many as four times a year, but the location where they can be viewed varies greatly.
If you manage to be in a prime area to see an eclipse, chances are, you’ll want to see it.
This is where the problem lies. Solar eclipses are rather dangerous to look at directly because they still give off the harmful ultraviolet rays that damage your eyes.
This leads to one of two solutions: either you will need to make a pinhole projector or, using this article, learn to make glasses that allow you to look at the eclipse!
How Solar Eclipse Sunglasses Work
While they are extraordinarily dark, solar eclipses are still harmful to the eyes, especially as the sun works towards complete coverage.
Two kinds of ultraviolet rays, UVB and UVA, can destroy your eyes, the former damaging your cornea and the latter damaging the lens and retina.
Solar eclipse glasses are designed to block out the sun’s harmful rays much better than standard sunglasses.
They’re made of a special carbon-infused polymer that prevent all UV rays and almost all visible light from entering the lenses.
Now that you know the basics, it is time to get your materials together and get to building!
DIY Solar Eclipse Glasses
In order to build a set of eclipse glasses, you will need the following:
- A large piece of poster board or card stock.
- A template for your glasses, drawn or printed.
- A solar filter.
- A roll of blue painter’s tape.
- A pen.
Should you have a pair of old 3D glasses, you will be able to skip out on the poster board and template, making things significantly easier.
Once you have these supplies together (which can be found online or at a craft store), it’s time to begin construction.
Important Note Regarding Filters
The first and most important step is to verify the quality of the solar filter.
There are many household alternatives spread about on YouTube that claim to have safe, easy-to-get materials, but if they are not NASA-approved, you are putting yourself at serious risk.
No matter how dark the lenses of your favorite sunglasses are, they likely won’t be enough. It is recommended to use high-quality, ISO-certified filters from reputable businesses like Rainbow Symphony.
You will need these glasses to be a durable, scratch resistant, polymer. This kind, if it’s the right variety, will allow you to gaze at the sun without burning your eyes.
Now that you have the parts, it is time to start building.
- If you’re making your own frames from scratch, start by laying out the poster board or cardstock on a flat surface, and begin to draw your outline. Once it is finished, use your scissors to cut out the frames. There should be one rectangular piece with eye holes and a cut for your nose, as well as handles to fit around your ears. If you have an old pair of 3D cinema glasses, simply pop out the old lenses, and you’ll be ready for the next step.
- After you’ve made sure the solar filter was of the correct quality, you will need to cut out two pieces so that they completely cover the eye holes. Be careful not to puncture or scratch the film while working with it, because any imperfections can result in a less successful and therefore more dangerous pair of glasses. You will also want to ensure you don’t cut them too close to size. If they don’t have much overlap, light can leak through and that will defeat the entire purpose of the glasses.
- Once the film has been cut down to shape, it’s time to secure it. Taking lengths of the blue painter’s tape, place it around the outer perimeter of the lenses. You will also want to secure the parts that go over the ears to prevent them from falling off. Over time, the creases will weaken, so make sure everything is nice and secure.
- Now that the glasses are put together, it is time to test them. Go into a dark room and put on the glasses. Next, have someone aim a flashlight at you and turn it on. If any light leaks through the lenses without it having the yellow/orange color to it, you will need to either readjust them or create new lenses. Should such a thing happen, it is much better to find out during the test than while watching the eclipse itself.
Solar eclipses are fairly rare events to catch in person and are unmistakably beautiful.
When the opportunity arises, you will certainly not want to miss them – but not at the expense of your eyes!
With the use of these glasses, you will be able to observe the event risk-free.