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SYFY WIRE The End Is Nye

Bill Nye Talks Solar Eclipses and Meeting World-Ending Threats with Hope

Bill Nye wants you to enjoy the solar eclipse safely and completely.

By Cassidy Ward
Bill Nye wears eclipse glasses.

The Science Guy, Bill Nye, has made a career out of being psyched about science and figuring out ways to make the rest of us psyched about it too. While his famous educational program Bill Nye the Science Guy has been off the air since 1999, Nye is still busily teaching the world about science one interview, book, or astronomical event at a time.

How to Watch

Catch up on The End is Nye on Peacock or the SYFY app.

More recently, Nye was the host of a more adult science program called The End is Nye. It addressed a number of potential doomsday scenarios to figure out what, if anything, we can do to forestall cataclysmic disaster. The landscape has changed since the Science Guy was the best thing that could happen to you at elementary school. Nye’s original fans have gotten older, and we aren’t quite as hyped about things as we once were. The End is Nye feels like an attempt to bring Nye’s particular brand of science education not to a new generation, but to the same generation, only with more nuance and honesty. It feels like an invitation to recapture some of the joy and wonder of youth, and to remember that science rules, even when it is sometimes frightening.

If ever there was a time to appreciate the joy and wonder of science, it will be on Monday April 8, during the total solar eclipse. Nye will be with The Planetary Society (an organization for whom Nye is President) in Fredericksburg, Texas, for the event, but he stopped by SYFY WIRE (virtually) ahead of time to talk about the eclipse, science, and marrying action with hope.

For More on Eclipses:
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Everything to Know About April's Solar Eclipse, Including Where to Get Free Eclipse Glasses

How to Safely Watch a Solar Eclipse, According to Bill Nye

“Sunglasses just aren’t dark enough, not even close to dark enough. These glasses [he holds up a pair of certified eclipse glasses], even though they’re made of cardboard and very thin plastic, are more than enough to look directly at the Sun any old time. You don’t have to just use them on eclipse day,” Nye told SYFY WIRE.

Eclipse glasses typically work by merging two different materials, one which reflects a significant portion of sunlight and another which blocks out most of the rest. The resulting protective eyewear blocks out roughly 100,000 times more sunlight than sunglasses do, Nye explained. You should be able to find eclipse glasses just about everywhere in the days leading up to the eclipse, Nye remarked about finding some in a hardware store, and some places are even giving them away!

If, however, you find yourself on eclipse day without any glasses to use, there are other ways to safely view the event without risking the health of your eyes.

“If you have something like a cardboard box, you can poke a hole in one end and look at the image that falls on the inside. This is a classic thing called a pinhole viewer,” Nye said. “It works on account of the wave nature of light. You’ll get an image of what’s going on in the sky.” That’s the basic model, one of the easiest entryways into indirect optical viewing methods, but Nye dropped some additional tips for upgrading the quality of your pinhole camera.

“You can poke a hole with a ballpoint pen or a drill bit but instead, make the hole pretty big, big enough to poke a lip balm through it. Then tape a piece of aluminum foil over that hole and poke a tiny hole in the foil. The thing about aluminum foil is it makes a very sharp pinhole, so you’ll often get a better image,” Nye said.

The eclipse will be visible in its entirety from 15 U.S. states, Mexico, and parts of Canada. An estimated 32 million people will be within the path of totality when the Moon’s shadow falls on April 8. Even if you’re outside the path of totality, you might still be able to see a partial eclipse. The degree to which the Moon obscures the Sun will depend on your proximity to the path of totality, with the amount decreasing the farther away you are.

Capturing the Awe and Wonder of the Universe in an Eclipse

A solar eclipse map of the United States.

“We have this spectacular effect here on Earth, which is certainly unique in the solar system, where the Moon from Earth on Monday will block out the Sun almost exactly,” Nye said. “The Moon is one four-hundredth the diameter of the Sun but it’s 400 times closer. These two effects work together to create these spectacular total eclipses.”

Even 25 years after the last episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy, Nye’s enchantment with the scientific endeavor is as fervent as ever. It’s evident in his willingness to travel the world chasing eclipses, and in his 2022 series, The End is Nye. Each episode tackled a different apocalyptic scenario, including the worst consequences of climate change, to unravel how they might happen and what we can do to make sure they don’t. It sounds like dark material, but it comes off as hopeful in Nye’s hands, and that’s intentional.


“You’re doggone right, it’s intentional! If you think we can’t address climate change, then we won’t. It doesn’t mean you ignore it or sugar coat it, it means you face up to it and address it, for crying out loud, people,” Nye said, while noting that hope isn’t enough without action. “There is a great deal we can do about climate change, to be sure, but hope is not a plan. We have to do something.”

Part of that means living in the world, not just observing it from some metaphorical bleachers. Nye suggests the upcoming solar eclipse is an opportunity to practice being in the moment and truly appreciating a natural wonder unfolding in front of you. “Set an alarm for when it’s going to start and go out there with your approved glasses to watch it. Remember what you did that day,” Nye said. “Try the pinhole viewer, be in the moment, it’s something that will only happen for people my age, probably just one more time in my life.”

Catch the total solar eclipse from wherever you are on April 8, 2024, and catch The End is Nye, streaming now on Peacock.