Eclipse checklist: Eyewear, sunscreen and more

Eclipse time! April 8 is finally here and with it comes an unforgettable celestial event.

Millions of people across North America will have a chance to see a total solar eclipse – and even those outside the path of totality will still get quite a show.

We've rounded up a list of items you might want to have on hand for this afternoon's event.

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Eclipse glasses

Eclipse glasses are made with special solar filters to block the hazardous wavelengths of sunlight. These filters are typically made from a flexible resin called black polymer, which has several layers that block out different forms of light. 

One layer blocks the majority of the visible light spectrum, reducing the sun’s glare to comfortable levels. Another layer includes an aluminum coat that reflects infrared radiation. Often, these glasses also contain a thin layer of chromium alloy or aluminum deposited on their surfaces that reflects or filters out ultraviolet rays. 

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The result is that only a fraction of the sun's light, around 0.003% or so, passes through these filters, making it safe to observe the sun directly.

Safe alternatives to eclipse glasses include handheld eclipse viewers, welding filters or welder's glass (shades 13 and 14 only), or solar filters for telescopes, cameras or binoculars that attach to the front of your device. 

If you don't have one of those direct viewing options, an indirect method is best – like a pinhole camera.

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Pinhole camera (the DIY cereal box method)

If you can’t get your hands on a pair of eclipse glasses (or one of the other methods outlined below), never fear – making a solar eclipse projection box is easy and can be done with supplies you most likely already have at home. 

You’ll need an empty cereal box (or something similar), aluminum foil, clear tape, scissors, a marker, and a piece of white paper.

Trace the bottom of the box on the white paper, then cut out the resulting white rectangle. Tape it in the bottom of the cereal box. Cut out a square on each side of the box top, with the center intact. (Tape may come in handy here.) 

Cover the left square with aluminum foil, secure it with tape, and then punch a half-inch hole in the center of the foil. 

You’re essentially creating a space for the reflection of the eclipse to play out on the white paper. It’s pretty simple, but there are also more detailed instructions available. And hey, if you don’t have a cereal box handy, there’s a kitchen tool you can use! More on that below. 

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Microfiber cloth

Many eclipse glasses come packaged in a microfiber pouch that can be used to gently clean the lenses, but if you don't have one, grab a microfiber cloth (the kind frequently given out by optometrist offices) and throw it in your bag.

The American Astronomical Society says that you can also use any soft, nonabrasive tissue or cloth.

However, wet wipes are a big no-no. In fact, the AAS warns that you should not use any glass cleaner or other liquid on cardboard eclipse glasses and viewers, as they can cause the cardboard to swell and detach from the lenses.

If that happens, your glasses are no longer safe to use. 


Solar eclipses are all about the sun, so it's a no-brainer that any eclipse-packing checklists should include sunscreen! 

But with all the excitement, it could be easy to forget that you'll be standing in the light of the sun for an extended period and that the sun will only be blocked for a few short minutes.

Even then, only folks along the path of totality will get the full eclipse experience. If you're not in the path of totality, the sun won't ever be fully blocked. 

So make sure to apply a good SPF all over, at least 20 minutes before you head outside.

A hat

This one is for the same reason as the sunscreen – along with protecting your eyes, you need to take care of the rest of you! 

A hat will help shield your scalp, face and (depending on the hat) even your neck and shoulders from the sun's rays. 

Bonus points if it has UV protection.

And with some parts of the country experiencing some lovely warm weather, it's worth taking along an accessory that can help keep you cool and safe.

A beach umbrella could also do the trick.

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Hydration is important every day, but even more important when spending hours standing in (and looking at!) the sun.

Drinking water isn't just important for your overall health. According to the Florida Retina Institute, "Staying well hydrated is very important to maintain a healthy balance of fluid in the eye."

So fill up a bottle or three on your way out the door! 


SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR - OCTOBER 14: A child observes the sun hidden by the moon at the sky using special glasses during an annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023 in San Salvador, El Salvador. According to the Salvadoran Astronomy Association (

Comfortable shoes

Depending on where you're watching, there's a good chance you'll be spending a long time standing on a paved or concrete surface.

That can be increasingly uncomfortable and tiring for the back and legs. So make sure to wear comfortable, supportive footwear.

Camping chair or picnic blanket

See above! Make sure you'll be comfortable. Totality may be brief, but the whole event lasts hours.

Bug spray, first aid kit and other outdoor essentials

Think of the eclipse the way you would any other outdoor outing. What do you take camping? What do you bring to the beach? If there's a chance you'd need something on one of those adventures, you may need it on this one as well. 

An empty bladder

Don't miss totality because you had to run and find a restroom!

Colander (yes, really!)

Last but not least: If you're in a pinch for a safe viewing option, a simple kitchen tool could save the day.

The holes in a colander allow you to use it as an even simpler pinhole camera. Simply sit or stand with your back to the sun and hold the colander out. 

You might want to put a piece of white paper on the ground (or hold it in your other hand) to make the image as clear as possible. 

Unlike the DIY projector described above, using a colander will result in many small images of the eclipse! This makes it an especially appealing option for kids. 

What time is the solar eclipse?

Southern Texas will see the peak of totality first, around 1:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time. Then Dallas at 1:42 p.m., with the time getting later and later as the moon’s shadow moves north. Indianapolis will see the peak around 3:05 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time; Cleveland at 3:15 p.m., and northern Maine around 3:30 p.m.

However, it will take several hours for the moon to move across the sun, so the actual eclipse event will start just over an hour before the peak of totality, with more and more of the sun slowly being blocked.

How long is the solar eclipse?

Again, that depends on where you are. Those closest to the center of the path will see total darkness for about four minutes at the peak of totality.

But because the moon moves slowly across the sun’s path, the entire eclipse event – from when the moon first clips the sun until the time it clears – will last from 90 minutes to over two hours for those in the path of totality.

Where do I look for the solar eclipse?

The easiest way to know may be to step outside in the days leading up to the eclipse and see where the sun is during the afternoon.

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Early afternoon on April 8, the sun will be pretty high in the sky. As always, though, the further north you are, the lower in the sky the sun will appear.

For example, in Austin, the sun will be at 67 degrees up from the horizon at the peak of totality. Remember, 90 degrees is straight up, so 67 degrees is just over two-thirds up into the sky from the horizon.

In Cleveland, meanwhile, the sun will be slightly lower, at only 49 degrees – just over halfway up in the sky.

When is the next total solar eclipse?

After 2024, NASA says, the next total solar eclipse visible from any point in the contiguous United States will occur in 2044. Totality will only be visible from North Dakota and Montana.

The next total solar eclipse that will travel across the lower 48 states from coast to coast is in 2045. ​

This story was reported from Chicago. The FOX TV Digital team contributed to this report.