No arts and crafts required.
This Monday, August 21, the United States will be treated to a total solar eclipse, giving viewers a rare chance to look to the skies and see the moon block out the sun.
But for those who are not within the path of totality, which extends from Oregon to South Carolina, the eclipse will be partial, meaning you’ll still be exposed to sunlight and need to take protective measures.
While solar eclipse glasses are one way to do this, there’s another last-minute approach you can take to make sure you stay safe without missing the big show.
Just look to the plants around you.
The gaps in the leaves of trees act as natural pinhole lenses during the event, with the reflection casting projections of tiny crescent shapes all around.
“Turns out, you don’t need eclipse glasses to see what’s happening,” Jayarti Das, chief scientist at the Franklin Institute, told NewsWorks. “We can see the shadow of the eclipse in real time projected onto sidewalks and buildings through the sun coming through the gaps between leaves on trees.”
The gaps take and project the image of the sun, which becomes multiplied hundreds of times beneath each tree.
While trees regularly project the image of the sun onto the ground, it’s harder to notice this when the eclipse isn’t taking place since all of the tiny images of perfectly rounded suns blend together, according to researchers from the University of Illinois.
You can also use your fingers to achieve a similar effect, NASA points out.
“Cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern; with your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground…the little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse,” NASA wrote on its website.
It's vital you do not look directly at the sun without protective solar eclipse glasses, but seeing the ground blanketed in tiny little moons should be a magical sight in its own right.