Don't have eclipse glasses? No worries – you can still view the eclipse with a do-it-yourself eclipse box.
You shouldn't ever look directly at the sun without eclipse glasses or some other appropriate type of eye protection, because you could damage your retina. Unfortunately, eclipse glasses are becoming difficult to find, and there is concern about fake eclipse glasses, which might damage your eyes.
Projection is a safe and easy way to view the partial eclipse, and you can build your viewer yourself. It's quick, simple, and a fun project with the kids.
You are essentially making a pin hole camera, where the tiny hole projects light onto a screen. The tiny hole interacts with the light in such a way that the hole acts as a tiny lens and projects a focused image.
- Cardboard box big enough to stick your head in
- Box cutter or scissors
- Empty pop can
- Push pin
- White paper
1. Cut a small hole (less than 1 inch by 1 inch) on one of the short sides of the box, preferably higher up and centered.
2. Tape a sheet of white paper on the end opposite the small hole.
3. Cut an empty aluminum pop can using a box cutter or scissors to make a strip of aluminum about 2 inches by 2 inches or a little larger.
4. Put the aluminum strip on a piece of cardboard and carefully puncture it with a thumb tack or push pin. This makes the hole.
5. Center the aluminum strip over the small hole in the cardboard box and tape it down.
6. To use the eclipse box, put your head inside the box (yes, really) with your back to the sun.
7. Orient the box so that the light from the pin hole falls of the white paper and you should see an image of the sun about a centimeter across.
This will show the bite of the moon out of the sun during the eclipse. You can adjust the flaps and tape any holes in the top to keep out as much light as possible.
Eclipse box variations
There are lots of variations with different size and shape boxes and different material for the pin hole. You can also use aluminum foil or stiff paper for a strip, but the pop can is a lot more durable.
We made a second one that was totally sealed with eye holes in the lower left corner. You simply peep inside.
We also used aluminum tape from insulating ducting, punched a hole in it, and peeled off the back. We then centered the pin hole over the opening on the tape and attached it on the hole.