We are less than a week away from the first total solar eclipse in nearly four decades. If you’ve waited this long to purchase a pair of eclipse glasses in order to view the big event on August 21, then you’ve probably waited too long. Inventory is low and prices are sky high for eclipse glasses that let you safely stare directly at the sun. But fear not, you’ve got plenty of time to make a pinhole projector to view the eclipse.
What you’ll need
- Cardboard box
- Sheet of white paper
- Aluminum foil
- Pen or pencil
- Pin or thumbtack
How to make the pinhole projector
- Take your box — I used a cereal box — and trace its bottom on your sheet of paper.
- Cut out the rectangle you just traced and tape it to the bottom of the inside of your box. This will be your projection screen.
- Close the top of the box and cut two holes along the right and left edges of the top panel.
- Cut a piece of aluminum foil to cover one of the holes and tape it in place.
- Poke a hole in the middle of the piece of foil.
How to use your projector
Take your pinhole projector outside and face away from the sun so that its light shines into the pinhole. Look through the hole you did not cover and you will see the sun projected on the white piece of paper inside the box. The longer the box, the larger the image will be.
Easy, box-less alternative
Easier and better for group viewing is skipping the box and punching a pinhole into a sheet of paper and then simply projecting the sunlight through that pinhole onto another sheet of white paper on the ground. The image of the sun won’t be as vivid as it is projected inside a dark box, but it should work just fine if you have clear skies and bright sunshine on August 21.
Read more: Solar eclipse 101