If you are a procrastinator like me and one of the millions looking for eclipse glasses but aren’t able to find them on the streets or in the stores then you are in luck because there are other ways of viewing the eclipse. There are two ways of using the pinhole method to view the eclipse.
The first method is pretty simple. Just get a large piece of cardboard or paper plate and cut a hole in it. Any size, it doesn’t matter. And don’t worry about making it perfectly round or totally square. Tape a piece of aluminum foil over the hole and poke a tiny hole it in. This part is important, because you don’t want to make your pinhole to big. A smaller hole emits less light but creates a sharper image. A tack or pin works nicely. Done? Great. Go outside and hold your pinhole perpendicular to the sun. You should see an image on the ground. If you are on grass grab another paper plate or piece of white cardboard and lay it on the ground as a screen.
See? Easy! Notice that the image of the sun is quite small. You can make it bigger by moving the pinhole away from the screen, but that makes the image dimmer. Experiment and you’ll find a nice compromise between size and brightness.
If you’re feeling a little more ambitious the second method is a little more elaborate pinhole viewer. It’s basically a pinhole camera without film. Start with an empty cardboard box. If you find a white one you are in luck and the process becomes much easier. On the other hand, many of us have the plain brown box so placing white paper inside will do the trick.
Tape up all the edges to keep light from leaking into the box. Punch a hole in one end so you can peek inside the box to see the image, and do the pinprick-in-foil over another hole to let the light in. To use the pinhole, look into the box (covering the opening with your face as much as possible) and point the hole end of the box towards the sun so that your face will be looking away from the sun. Inside the pinhole camera on the backside you should see an image of the sun.
Anything that’s bright will show up in your pinhole box. During the eclipse you will be able to see the sun being partially blocked by the moon. Block out enough extra light and you can see nearby people and other things. It will be all upside down because that’s just how pinholes work. Of course, when you’re looking at the sun, it doesn’t matter that it’s upside down. It’s still the sun! Happy viewing everyone!
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