It’s been 38 years since the last total solar eclipse – February 26, 1979 – and I remember every moment of it at my elementary school that day! If you forgot what a huge event that was – or perhaps for the youngsters who weren’t alive to see it – check out this segment from ABC News’ Frank Reynolds -> Video News Special
If you don’t already have eclipse glasses (and frankly, since many were recalled from Amazon – I didn’t get them because who knows if the ones out there are safe or not!) – well it’s probably too late to get them! Never fear … I’ve got THREE different solutions for you!
1. PINHOLE CAMERA
Let’s make a pinhole camera like the one I made and used for the 1979 solar eclipse!!! I still remember that day very well!
What you need to make one is more than likely already in your house!
- Here’s what you need:
- 1 cereal box (empty!)
- 1 sheet of white paper
- Aluminum foil
- Pen or Pencil
- 1 small pin (safety pin, sewing needle, straight pin, etc. the smaller the better. Or if you don’t have one – use an uncooked spaghetti noodle. Obviously a cooked one wouldn’t work! 🤣)
Take the sheet of white paper and put it on a flat surface. Then put the bottom of the empty cereal box on the paper. Use a pen or pencil to trace around the bottom of the box on to the paper. Cut out the tracing. Put the paper in the bottom of the cereal box. (I used one looped piece of tape on the bottom of the box before I put the paper in to hold it in place – just in case.)
Next, you’ll cut out two openings in the lid of the box. This should be pretty easy since it’s the open part of the box.
When you’ve got both openings cut – tape the center part of the box closed.
Now take your aluminum foil – and make sure you have more than enough to cover ONE of the openings on the top of the box. I put it on the top of the box first – then gently folded it down the sides. I then folded the longer ends like I was wrapping a present so it would stay flat! Take your tape and tape down all the way around the aluminum foil.
Now take the pin and poke the smallest hole in the center of the aluminum foil.
Voilà!!! Your pinhole camera is now ready for the eclipse!
How it works:
Stand with your back to the sun. Hold the box so the aluminum foil portion is at the top and the open section is below. Now hold your pinhole camera where the aluminum foil is directly facing the sun. Now adjust it so the projected image of the sun is on the white paper you put in the bottom of the box.
But how does it REALLY work???
Pinhole cameras are actually ancient technology! Dating back to the Chinese around 500 BCE! In fact, the cameras we use today are based off of ancient pinhole cameras. The pinhole acts as the “lens” for your camera transferring the image to the back of the box.
The sharper the picture you want in the back of your pinhole camera depends on the size of the pinhole you made. Which means – the smaller the hole – the sharper the image! However, that smaller hole will dim the brightness of the sun – but with the brightness of the sun it shouldn’t be a problem to enjoy safely viewing the eclipse!
I’ve also saw a cool version of a pinhole camera using a shoebox! (Sounds like a good excuse to go buy shoes today 😉👠)
It’s the same premise – with the shoebox open cut a piece of white paper to put inside the back side panel of the box and tape it in place. Cut out two small openings on the opposite side of the box. Cover one hole with aluminum foil and tape around the sides (remember not to cover the aluminum foil with tape in the area you’ll be poking the hole!). Close the lid of the box and stand with your back to the sun to have the aluminum foil hole project the image to the back of the shoebox!
2. NASA DIY PINHOLE CAMERA
NOW…let’s see what NASA suggests! They easily created a pinhole camera where more than one person can view the eclipse at the same time.
- Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 pieces of white card stock (thicker bodied paper to be less flimsy)
- Aluminum foil
- 1 Pin (Safety, sewing, straight pin – use an uncooked spaghetti noodle if you don’t have a traditional pin! Obviously a cooked one wouldn’t work! 🤣)
Cut a hole in the center of one of the pieces of white card stock. Cut a piece of aluminum foil larger than the hole. Cover the hole with the foil and tape around the edges. Do not cover the center of the foil where the pinhole will go. Take your pin and poke a small hole in the center of the foil.
Now place the other piece of white card stock on the ground or a table with the sun behind you. Hold the piece of card stock with the pinhole and adjust it so the sun reflects through the pinhole onto the other piece of paper. Now more than one person can see the eclipse!
3. Neil deGrasse Tyson PINHOLE CAMERA HACK
If you want to make it extremely easy to watch the eclipse safely. Check out what renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson suggests:
Go into your kitchen and get a spaghetti strainer, or colander — not the mesh, but the kind with holes in it — and go outside and hold it out over the ground. Each one of those holes will act as pinhole camera and you’ll see hundreds of images of the crescent sun on the ground, and you can watch the eclipse unfold safely.”
SERIOUSLY, a strainer?!? Yep. I wholeheartedly trust Neil!
With a strainer you’ll obviously get multiple images of the sun – that will look amazing!
Safety information from NASA here -> Eclipse Safety
HERE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER via NASA:
DO NOT look at the sun without protection for your eyes from approved eclipse glasses or a pinhole camera! (Via NASA)
Sunglasses are NOT SAFE – regardless of how dark they might be! (Via NASA)
Looking through a telescope, camera lens, binoculars, or other optical devices is NOT SAFE. The light will damage the filter and then that light goes to your eyes. You need an approved solar filter on these instruments. (Via NASA)
Homemade filters are NOT SAFE. (Via NASA)
Looking directly at the sun is OBVIOUSLY NEVER SAFE – (Via NASA)
ONLY FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE LINE OF TOTALITY: ACCORDING TO NASA you can remove your glasses during ONLY when the moon has completely covered the sun. ***As soon as the sun starts to reappear you must put your glasses or solar filters back on. (Via NASA)
Click HERE to see if you’re in the path of totality via NASA.
***Most of us will NOT be in the path of totality and NASA says we MUST keep our eyes protected at ALL TIMES!!!
***PET OWNERS – Take precautions – Bring your pets inside during the eclipse. You don’t want their confusion of the sun disappearing to cause them to stare up at the sun.
This is, in many cases, a once in a lifetime event that you DON’T WANT TO MISS!!!
We will not have another total eclipse passing over North America and Mexico until April 8, 2024! So mark your calendars! 😉
- I’ll have information about eclipse camera settings posted early this evening – you don’t want to miss that blog – so please go down to the bottom of this page and enter your email address in where it says Follow Blog Via Email and you’ll be alerted when I post a blog! So go charge those batteries and get your tripod ready!
I’m so excited!!!