IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

4 best ways to view the solar eclipse safely without glasses

The most well-known way to safely watch the eclipse is with special glasses that protect your eyes from the sun. But these strategies work well, too.
/ Source: TODAY

The day of the 2024 total solar eclipse is here, and you may be among the millions of Americans scrambling to get a glimpse of the moment the moon completely blocks the sun.

The safest way to watch the solar eclipse is with special glasses because it can damage your eyes to look directly at the sun. But with the rare phenomenon expected to start this afternoon, if you haven't purchased any of the recommended glasses, you may think you've missed your chance.

Live updates: Following along our total solar eclipse live blog

Luckily, it's possibly to safely watch the solar eclipse without eclipse glasses. Here are a few of the best ways to do so.

How to watch the eclipse without glasses

Taken from a few expert sources, here are a few easy ways to watch the solar eclipse if you don't have the special glasses.

Make a pinhole projector

You can make a pinhole camera to watch the eclipse instead of using glasses with a few materials you probably have lying around your home, according to the Planetary Society.

To start, go outside and find a good spot to view the eclipse. Ideally, when the eclipse becomes visible in your area, you'll want to be able to see the shadow of your head and shoulders and nothing else in this spot.

Then, take two pieces of card stock (or a paper plate) and use a pushpin to punch a hole in the middle of one of the cards. If you're interested in doing something more elaborate, you can punch multiple holes in the card in the shape of a design, like a star or heart.

To use it to view the eclipse, go to a place where you can see your shadow. With your back to the sun, hold up the card with the hole(s) in the one hand and the card without the holes in the other. Place the card with the holes above your shoulder and the hole-less card a few feet behind it so you can see the shadow of the card with the hole on it.

The light in the middle of the shadow is the sun, so when the eclipse is visible in your area, the card with the hole will project it onto the other card.

Use a mirror

You can use a mirror to safely view the eclipse, according to the Royal Astronomical Society in the U.K.

The way you do so is by using the mirror to reflect the image of the eclipse onto a wall or another flat surface, ideally a white one — not by looking at the eclipse in the mirror, as this can damage your eyes. Do not use a magnifying mirror for this.

Cover the mirror with a piece of paper that has a small hole in it, no more than 5 millimeters. Stand with your back to the eclipse and use the covered mirror to reflect the light of the sun onto a wall or other flat surface. You can do this outside or inside with an open window. Do not reflect the sunlight into your eyes or someone else's.

Use a colander

A colander, also known as a pasta strainer, is another way to view the eclipse without glasses. All you have to do is hold it about 20 inches above the ground with your back to the sun, according to the Exploratorium. You can also place a piece of white paper on the ground so you can see the eclipse projected onto it more easily.

If you don't have a colander, you can use a cheese grater instead.

DIY solar eclipse glasses with a cereal box

You can use a cereal box to make makeshift glasses that allow you to safely view the eclipse, according to NASA.

To start, empty the cereal box. Then cut a piece of white cardboard to fit in the bottom of the box. It should be snug, or you should glue it in place. Cut the top of the cereal box so there is a square hole on either side but the middle part is intact. Tape the middle section to hold it closed.

Use a piece of tin foil to cover one of the openings on the top of the box and tape it in place. Make a small hole in the foil no bigger than 3 millimeters. The other opening should stay that way as that's what you'll look through.

When the eclipse hits your area, take the box and turn your back to the sun. The side with the foil and the hole should point toward the sun. Then look through the other side, and you should see the eclipse projected onto the white cardboard on the inside at the bottom of the box. It will look like a bright spot of light.

Can I wear regular sunglasses to watch the eclipse?

No, using regular sunglasses is not a safe way to watch the solar eclipse because they don't reduce the amount of sunlight that hits the back of your eyes by that much.

“They’re not an acceptable means for protecting your retina” if you stare directly at the sun, Dr. Russell N. Van Gelder, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Washington School of Medicine, previously told

Can I watch the eclipse through my phone?

Using your phone to watch the eclipse without the proper equipment could be both harmful to your phone and your eyes. In a recent post on X, formerly known as Twitter, NASA explained that pointing your phone camera at the eclipse could damage its sensor.

In its guide to photographing the eclipse, NASA also stated that you need to wear eclipse-safe glasses in order to protect your eyes while trying to take picture of the eclipse.

You can use your phone to watch the eclipse via NASA's live YouTube stream.

Can you watch the eclipse through a window?

Yes, you can watch the eclipse through a window as long as you use the recommended protective glasses. If you don't have glasses, many of the DIY methods may be less effective through a window.