How to make your own Solar Eclipse Viewer | Total Eclipse

How to make your own Solar Eclipse Viewer

Learn how to make your own solar eclipse viewer in this edition of Science Explained! On 8th April, there will be a total solar eclipse visible across the USA, Mexico and Canada but it will also be possible to see a partial eclipse across other parts of the world, including the UK. Seeing a total solar eclipse can be a once in a lifetime event, but it is important to take safety precautions when viewing the eclipse to prevent damaging your eyes.

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and earth at exactly the right moment. A shadow is cast over earth by the moon blocking the sun’s light, either totally or partially.

There can be up to five eclipses every year, but a total eclipse only happens every 18 months. It can be up to 400 years before a total eclipse is seen in the same location.

Where can I see the eclipse on 8th April?

The eclipse will begin over the South Pacific Ocean and travel through Mexico, then across the USA from Texas to Maine. It will then be visible in Canada through southern Ontario, Québec and New Brunswick.

In the UK and Ireland, a partial eclipse will be visible, with the best chance of viewing it in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Visibility of the eclipse is also dependent on weather conditions.

How can I see the eclipse safely?

It is very important that you do not look at the eclipse without specialist eye protection. This includes looking at the eclipse using a camera lens.

Specialist glasses can be purchased that block out the harmful sun rays that can damage the eyes. You can check if your eclipse glasses are safe if they are made to ISO 12312-2 standards. Regular sunglasses are not strong enough to do this.

If you haven’t had a chance to purchase glasses, don’t worry! You can also make your own eclipse pin hole viewer using a few household items: an enclosed box, or one with a lid, some aluminium foil and paper:

  1. Inside the box, tape a piece of white paper across the bottom. This will act like a projector screen.
    White paper taped to the bottom of the box to act as a projector screen for the Solar Eclipse Viewer
  2. On the side opposite the paper, cut a small hole in the box, about 2.5 cm across.
    Small hole cut into top of box
  3. Tape a piece of aluminium foil over the hole
    Aluminium foil taped over small hole
  4. Using a pin or needle, pierce a hole in the foil over the hole
    Pin piercing aluminium foil
  5. Finally, cut a 2.5 cm hole on the side of the box that is beside the projector screen. This will be your viewing hole. You must be able to look through the viewing hole at an angle and see the white paper.
    Viewing hole cut into side of solar eclipse viewer

To use the pin hole eclipse viewer, stand with your back to the sun. Position the box so that the aluminium foil pin hole is directed toward the eclipse whilst you look through the viewing hole. During the eclipse you will see the shadow of the moon pass in front of the sun projected onto the white paper.

Person using homemade Solar Eclipse Viewer.

Are you looking forward to the eclipse? Let us know if you have made your own pin hole eclipse viewer by tagging us on social media!

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