Friday, August 18, 2017

Pin Hole Solar Eclipse Viewer - A Last-Minute Papercraft Project

O.K., unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past year or so or been stranded on a remote island somewhere in the middle of nowhere, then I'm sure you've heard all about the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21st.   This is the first eclipse to pass over the lower 48 of the United States since 1979 and it should be spectacular, especially for those lucky folks in 14 states who are in the 70 mile wide totality path. I will be able to see about 90% totality from my location here in Huntington, WV.  The site lets you look up specific information about the eclipse for your particular location, including a time-lapse simulation of what you should see (assuming weather is not a factor).

Like many, I've procrastinated on getting a pair of special glasses that allow you to look directly at the sun to watch the event.  Honestly, I'm a bit leery about using glasses to look directly at the sun during this event, given recent news that Amazon recently recalled thousands of  pairs of eclipse glasses due to concerns that some glasses that have been sold cannot be verified has having been manufactured to the strict ISO 12312-2 standard.  So, being the papercraft guy that I am, I decided to build a few pin hole viewers for me and my wife to watch Monday's event.  I thought that I'd capture the steps here in case you are interested in building a viewer for yourself.

First, I rounded up a few empty cardboard boxes at my office.  I decided  two build three viewers, using two 7"x7"x7" boxes and one 8"x3"x3" box.

The following tools and materials are also needed: a few sheets of 8.5"x11" white paper, scissors, needle, box cutter, packing tape, 8.5"x11" sheet of aluminum foil, ruler, and a glue stick or tape.

I lined the inside of opposite side of the box with a piece of white paper and affixed it using the glue stick.  The white paper will serve as the "screen" upon which the pin hole image of the sun will be projected.

Next, I cut out a square in the upper left corner of the open side of each box to serve as the pin hole aperture. 

I then cut a smaller rectangle out in the lower right side to serve as the viewing area.  

I then covered the aperture opening with a piece of aluminum foil, making sure to keep the covering as flat and smooth as possible.

I then placed a small pinhole in the center of the aperture using a needle.   The light from the sun will pass though this pin hole and will be magnified and projected against the white paper sheet.

Next, I taped up all edges of the box to get a good seal to keep light out and then took the completed unit outside for a test. I faced away from the sun and pointed the foil-covered aperture toward the sun while looking into the back of the box and the back wall through the small rectangle cut out. 


I repeated the same process to build two more units.


I'm now ready to safely view Monday's solar eclipse!  I hope that this article helps you get ready to experience this awesome event.....enjoy!

1 comment :

  1. Excellent! We have the glasses, but will probably have a cloudy day. I may opt for NASA's live feed.