LINCOLN SQUARE — This eclipse business is about to get real, with the solar show set to start just before noon.
For those who failed to grasp the magnitude of this phenomenon and wondered why everyone was making plans to travel to Carbondale, welcome to the club. Until a couple of days ago, we thought the "path of totality" had something to do with Scientology.
Now, here we are, hours away from the most awesome astronomical event to happen in our lifetime (sorry, #Supermoon2016) and we're going to miss it because, apparently, eclipse glasses are vital to the experience.
NASA, astronomers and Bill Nye the Science Guy have all been working overtime to a) whip up interest in the eclipse while b) simultaneously warning people not to watch it with their naked eyes.
According to experts, sunlight's invisible infrared radiation can burn the retina without a person knowing it. Fun fact: Retinas have no pain receptors — even when 99 percent of the sun is blocked by the moon.
But what's an eclipse bandwagon-jumping gal to do without a pair of ISO 12312-2 eyeball filters?
Channel her inner MacGyver.
It's possible to view a projection of the eclipse via any number of pinhole "cameras," and while this may not be as exciting as looking at the obscured sun straight on, it's definitely preferable to being blinded.
The Adler Planetarium has an entire webpage devoted to DIY pinhole projectors, so we're starting to think we have plenty of company on Procrastinator Island.
All of these projectors require zero assembly and are likely close at hand — one literally is your hand:
• slotted spoon, colander, cheese grater
• Ritz crackers (generic brand acceptable) or saltines
• your fingers
Here's how they work: Stand with your back to the sun. Repeat: back to the sun. Hold up the spoon/colander/cracker or your outspread fingers (hand over hand to form a waffle pattern) and check out the projection on a piece of paper or the sidewalk.
Or just find a tree and as light filters through the leaves, the shape of the eclipse will be projected onto the ground. Call us dubiously optimistic that this will produce a remotely interesting image.
On the other hand, if clouds ruin the whole thing, which the Chicago forecast is predicting, at least you'll have a great view of everyone else looking silly in their eclipse glasses.