On August 21, 2017, people in North America will be able to see either a total or a partial solar eclipse, where the moon will either completely or partially cover the sun in the middle of the day from our perspective on Earth. Along the path of totality, a relatively narrow area that will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, the moon will completely cover the sun, stars will shine in a night-like sky and lucky observers will be able to see the sun's tenuous atmosphere, the corona, extending from the moon's border.
Louisiana isn't in the path of totality, but that doesn't mean we won't be treated to a special event here at LSU. The moon will take a huge "bite" out of the sun, covering 80% of the sun over Louisiana.
During a partial solar eclipse or otherwise, you should never look at the sun without special eye protection. However, there are very simple, inexpensive and safe ways to view the eclipse here in Louisana, or anytime any anywhere the solar eclipse 2017 is in partial phase. You can always just look down - if you are under a tree, you'll see tiny crescent-shaped spots of light everywhere there normally would be circles of light!
You can also make what is called a “pinhole camera” or “camera obscura.” It also has the advantage that the image of the sun can be enlarged, so that you can see the eclipse more easily.
Here are some of the ways you can make a pinhole-based solar viewer!
You can easily build a solar viewer out of a 12-pack soft drink box! You'll need an empty 12-can soda box, tape, paper, scissors, aluminum foil, a safety pin and maybe some duct tape!
Find full instructions for making this type of solar viewer here.
You can also make a solar viewer or pinhole camera with two paper plates! This is about the simplest solar viewer imaginable. All you need are two disposable plates and something to make a small hole in one of them - a pair of scissors, a pencil point, the tip of a ballpoint pen, or the end of a paper clip will work. With a small hole in one paper plate, you can hold this plate up to the sun with one hand (don't look through the hole though!) and let the sunlight that passes through the hole fall on the other paper plate resting in your other hand or on the ground. You'll see a small image of the sun - or a sun with a "bite" out of it during an eclipse!
Find full instructions here.
You can even make a solar viewer out of a pinhole and a small mirror that can be used to project an image of the sun onto a wall, whiteboard or ceiling in a classroom, for example from a door or window.
All you need is piece of paper with a slightly larger "pinhole" than required for the other solar viewers above (the size of the “pinhole” can be 1/4 inch or more), tape, and a flat mirror (NOT a curved magnifying mirror).
Find full instructions here.
Happy solar viewer building!
LSU students: On August 21, grab your lunch and come watch the solar eclipse 2017 with us on the Parade Ground from 12 - 1:30p.m.! Get some LSU eclipse watching glasses, hear from LSU scientists, watch LSU's scientific ballooning team capture video of the total eclipse live from Carbondale, IL, and enjoy the Student Activities Board event, LSU's Gaming on the Geaux!