Observing the Solar Eclipse for Yourself

There are several ways you can observe the solar Eclipse on August 21st for yourself. The easiest and safest is to project the Eclipse by building your own pinhole camera.

Projecting the Solar Eclipse

You can easily and safely observe the Solar Eclipse by projecting it through a tiny hole onto a white sheet of paper. This simple device is called a “pinhole camera.”

1. With a pin, punch a hole in the center of one of your piece of paper.

2. Go outside, hold the paper up and aim the hole at the Eclipse. (Don’t look at the Eclipse, either through the hole or in any other way! )

3. Now, find the image of the Eclipse that comes through the hole.

4. Move your other piece of paper back and forth until the image rests on the paper and is in focus (i.e., has a nice, crisp edge).

What you are seeing is not just a dot of light coming through the hole, but an actual image of the Solar Eclipse.

Experiment by making your hole larger or smaller. What happens to the image? What happens when you punch two holes in the piece of paper? Try bending your paper so the images from the two holes lie on top of each other. What do you think would happen if you punched a thousand holes in your paper, and you could bend your paper so all the images lined up on top of each other? In fact, optical telescopes can be thought of as a collection of millions of “pinhole” images all focused together in one place!

You can make your pinhole camera fancier by adding devices to hold up your piece of paper, or a screen to project your Eclipse image onto.


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