Why you should bring a colander to watch the solar eclipse

The Great North American Eclipse will happen on April 8, 2024 and something in your kitchen could help you make the most it.

The total solar eclipse will cover portions of the U.S. from Texas, through the Midwest and into the Northeast. 44 million people in the 115-mile-wide path are expected to experience totality.

READ MORE: What causes a total solar eclipse?

While the total solar eclipse is special, it will only last a few minutes, depending on where you live. The partial solar eclipse will last much longer and will be visible across all 48 contiguous U.S. states.

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.

For example, in Downtown Dallas, one of the largest cities in the path of totality, the partial eclipse will begin at 12:23 p.m. central time. The moon will slowly cover the sun until reaching totality at 1:40. Totality will last for 3 minutes and 51 seconds, and then the sun will slowly be uncovered until 3:02 p.m.

READ MORE: Where to find free solar eclipse glasses before April 8

During a partial eclipse, you can expect to see some strange shadows.

You might remember the crescent-shaped shadows from the 'Ring of Fire' eclipse in 2023.

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Shadows of leaves on pavement during the eclipse. (Albert Abete)

As the moon passes in front of the sun, the amount of sunlight drops.

Usually, the sun produces so much light that it bounces and refracts, causing a blurry shadow, but during a partial eclipse the amount of ambient light drops, making the shadows sharper and clearer.

The light that does make it to the ground will form small crescents.

Anything that can cast a shadow while allowing small amounts of light through can create the effect, known as the pinhole camera effect.

You can see it naturally as the light goes through the leaves of a tree, but a colander can also be a great way to create it on your own.

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HOPKINSVILLE, KY - AUGUST 21: People use a colander to project the eclipse onto a piece of paper in Hopkinsville, KY on Aug. 21, 2017. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

You can also punch holes in a piece of paper or a notecard or use a cheese grater to create the same effect.

According to NASA, a pinhole camera works because the light from the sun gets focused and then is projected out the other side of the hole.

Seeing the projected shapes did not require any special eye protection and was a way to participate in the viewing of the eclipse without looking directly at the sun.


Solar eclipse 2024: Why wearing red or green could enhance your solar eclipse experience

Choosing the right colors to wear won’t just be about looking good – there’s a science behind the reason why experts say you should think about wearing red or green.

Here's another fun fact: Before totality, the crescents will face one direction, but after totality it will flip.

Long story short, if you are heading to an eclipse watching event, pack the colander!