Sunday, June 25, 2017

Make a Pinhole Camera to View the Solar Eclipse

Pinhole Camera

You don't need a lot of money to observe a solar eclipse in complete safety. With just a few simple supplies, you can make a pinhole camera that lets you watch a solar eclipse safely and easily from anywhere. 

A pinhole camera is a simple camera without a lens. Instead of a lens, it has a tiny aperture, a pinhole. Light from a scene passes through the aperture and projects an inverted image, which is known as the camera obscura effect.

Remember: You should never look at the sun directly without equipment that's specifically designed for looking at the sun. Even using binoculars or a telescope, you could severely damage your eyes or even go blind! The totality portion of a solar eclipse is safe. But looking at anything as bright as the sun is NOT safe without proper protection. And no, sunglasses do NOT count. 

Now, let's make a pinhole camera! You will need the following materials.
  • 2 pieces of white card stock
  • 1 piece of unused, smooth, aluminum foil
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 1 roll of tape
  • 1 pin or paper clip

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


1. Cut a square hole into the middle of one of your pieces of card stock.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


2. Tape a piece of aluminum foil over the hole.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


3. Use your pin or paper clip to poke a small hole in the aluminum foil.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


4. Place your second piece of card stock on the ground and hold the piece with aluminum foil above it (foil facing up). Stand with the sun behind you and view the projected image on the card stock below! The farther away you hold your camera, the bigger your projected image will be.

To make your projection a bit more defined, try putting the bottom piece of card stock in a shadowed area while you hold the other piece in the sunlight.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


5. For extra fun, try poking multiple holes in your foil, making shapes, patterns and other designs. Each hole you create will turn into its own projection of the eclipse, making for some neat effects. Grab a helper to take photos of your designs for a stellar art project you can enjoy even after the eclipse has ended. 
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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