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Make a Box Pinhole Projector to Safely Watch a Solar Eclipse

A simple and safe way to watch a solar eclipse is with a box pinhole projector. It is easy to make from a cardboard box and ordinary household items.

Diagram of a box pinhole projector.

Watch an eclipse through a pinhole projector.

Make your own eclipse pinhole projector from a cardboard box.

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Project the Sun

Never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection. You can seriously hurt your eyes and even go blind.

Projecting the Sun in a box projector, with binoculars or a telescope, or using only 2 pieces of cardboard is a safe and easy way to see a solar eclipse.

Projector Using a Box

This type of pinhole projector works on the same principle as a basic pinhole projector. However, the box makes this projector much sturdier and easier to set on a surface. And it only requires a few extra items to construct.

You Need:

  • a long cardboard box or tube
  • scissors
  • duct tape
  • aluminum foil
  • a pin or a thumbtack
  • a sharp knife or paper cutter
  • a sheet of white paper

What to Do:

  1. Cut a rectangular hole at the end of the box. You can tape 2 boxes together to make a long box. The longer the box, the larger the projected image.
  2. Using the scissors, cut out a piece of the aluminum foil slightly larger than the rectangular hole. Make sure the foil is completely flat and not crinkled.
  3. Tape the foil over the rectangular hole in the box.
  4. Use the pin to poke a tiny hole in the center of the foil.
  5. Tape the sheet of paper on the inside of the other end of the box.
  6. Stand with your back toward the Sun. Place the box over your head with the pinhole towards the Sun. Adjust your position until you see a small projection, a negative image, of the eclipsed Sun on the paper inside the box.

Using a Tube?

If you are using a long tube or taping 2 tubes together, cut the end of the tubes and tape the foil with a pinhole on 1 end. On the other end, tape a piece of white paper over the end of the tube. This will act as the screen. Close to this end, cut a rectangular hole using the knife. This will be your viewing window.

With your back toward the Sun, point the end with the foil toward the Sun, angling the tube along the Sun's rays. Look into the tube through the viewing window until you see a negative image of the eclipsed Sun on the screen.

Keep Safe!

  • Never look at the Sun directly without protective eye gear. Even sunglasses cannot protect your eyes from the damage the Sun's rays can do to them.
  • Always keep your back toward the Sun while looking at a pinhole projection.
  • Do not look at the Sun through the pinhole.

No Good for Planet Transits

Unfortunately, for planet transits like the Mercury Transit on November 11–12, 2019, Mercury is too small and too far away to be projected in this manner. However, a projector made from binoculars or a telescope can work.

Topics: Astronomy, Eclipses, Sun

Next Total Solar Eclipse

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Total Solar Eclipse

Aug 21, 2017 at 15:46 UTCSee more


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Solar Eclipses

  1. Different Types of Eclipses
  2. What Are Solar Eclipses?
  3. How Often Do Solar Eclipses Occur?
  4. Total Solar Eclipses
  5. Partial Solar Eclipses
  6. Annular Solar Eclipses
  7. Solar Eclipses in History
  8. Solar Eclipse Myths
  9. Magnitude of Eclipses

Eclipses


Eclipse Lookup


Protect Your Eyes

  1. Never Look Directly at the Sun
  2. Simple Pinhole Projector
  3. Eclipse Projector in a Box
  4. Binoculars / Telescope Projector

Eclipses & Transits


Planet Transits

  1. Transit of Mercury
  2. Transit of Venus

Astronomy Index

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