Excited about the eclipse, but didn't manage to get special glasses in time (or found they were all sold out through reputable dealers)? Never fear! You can still view the eclipse safely, AND you can do it using materials from around the house. And you can make it relatively quickly.
1. Take a long rectangular box, and cut a large hole in one end the shape of a rectangle. It doesn't have to be perfect. And if you tape two boxes together, to make a longer box, the image projected will be larger. Make sure the bottom of the box has a larger sized opening in it so you can work in it and fit your head into it.
2. Cut out a piece of aluminum foil slightly larger than the hole you just cut in the box. You want to make sure this foil is pretty smooth, not crinkly, so maybe don't use the cheapo stuff. Try to get it REALLY flat and smooth.
3. Tape the foil over the hole you cut in the box.
4. Use a pin or tack, and poke a tiny hole in the center of the foil. Again: tiny.
5. Then, tape a sheet of paper on the inside of the other end of the box. Regular office paper is fine.
During the eclipse, stand with your back to the sun, and hold the box so the FOIL end is facing the sun. Place the box over your head so you are facing the white paper "screen" and the pinhole in the foil is facing the sun behind you. Adjust the position of the box until the sun's rays shine through the pinhole and you can see a small reversed image of the solar eclipse projected onto the paper screen in front of you.
Sure, it's not perfect, it's small, but it's better than looking at the eclipse with unprotected eyes and going blind! And there are several other ways to make viewers as well, some better than others, and some more involved. It all depends on how far you want to go and what materials you have on hand.
Today's eclipse is happening 1:28 PM Eastern Time, and it will take a little more than an hour from the time the eclipse begins to the time when the sun is obscured. Then another hour will pass as the moon completes its pass and the eclipse is over. DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY DURING ANY OF THIS (or ever, really). Well, unless you WANT to go blind. I guess that's in your hands...
Melanie R. Meadors is an author of fantasy where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She has edited two upcoming genre anthologies, MECH: Age of Steel and HATH NO FURY, and is the science and pop culture blogger at The Once and Future Podcast. You can find her at her website, melaniermeadors.com, on Facebook, and Twitter, @melaniermeadors.