Solar eclipse creates opportunities for education, family fun

Posted at 7:30 PM, Aug 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-20 21:30:12-04

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -- Solar eclipse glasses have been flying off the shelves, selling out quickly in Utah.

But with a little creativity, you can make your own solar viewer at home.

That's what several families were doing in Idaho Falls Sunday morning, right before heading into the museum to listen to NASA scientists talk about space.

As more people come into downtown Idaho Falls to see the eclipse Monday, many make one of their first stops at the Museum of Idaho.

“We were just like, what can we do to involve the kids to learn about the solar eclipse?” said Amanda Wiggins of Salt Lake City.

Like many Utahns, Wiggins and her family drove up from Salt Lake City to spend a family-fun weekend in Idaho Falls, all leading up to Monday’s big event: the solar eclipse.

“For generations, a couple of generations, this is a new and unique experience. Not to be missed!” said Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science for NASA.

Wiggins says she wished she had known there would be so many ways to get or make eclipse viewers here in Idaho.

"It was just major overload, everyone was in line Tuesday, Wednesday, I think it was mid-Thursday they were sold out,” she said of this last week’s search for glasses in Utah. “It was just crazy. It was mass hysteria there compared to here.”

No matter how you get them, or if you make the viewer yourself, it’s important to protect your eyes if you plan on looking up at the sun Monday.

“If you don’t do that you will suffer permanent eye damage,” Green said. “So this is nothing to mess around with. It will burn and sear the inside of your eye.”

After making the solar viewer, of course everyone had to test it. Sunday they can see sunlight through the pinhole. Monday, the view will be something special.

“I’m sure they’re going to love it tomorrow and be like, whoa why did the pinhole finally get dark?” Wiggins said of her children.

If you haven’t secured your eye protection yet, a NASA Ambassador came by the Fox 13 Studio Friday to demonstrate several methods for DIY viewing devices. Click here for that video as well as links to written instructions for two types of viewers you can make at home.

You can also watch live coverage of the eclipse from Idaho Falls Monday on Fox 13.