How To Build Your Own Pinhole Viewer For The 2024 Solar Eclipse

Proper eye protection is important.

By Erich Martin

The 2017 eclipse.
Credit: Cody Denson

The solar eclipse that will cross the continental United States is happening on Monday and without the proper eye wear, it is dangerous for your vision to observe the vent.

According to NASA, the only safe way to view the sun, either uneclipsed or during an eclipse, is through special purpose solar glasses, which many stores are out of or in short support. NASA officials said that regular sunglasses will not protect your eyes, whether you are looking at the sun on a normal day or viewing the solar eclipse.

What Will Monday’s Solar Eclipse Look Like In The Area?

While every state will witness at least a partial eclipse, the phenomenon will be a total eclipse along a specific path stretching from Texas to Maine. Bucks County and Hunterdon County will enjoy an impressive view, with about 90 percent of the sun obscured starting around 2 p.m. and ending by 4:30 p.m.

An alternative to using special solar glasses is to view the sun indirectly through the use of a pinhole viewer. A pinhole viewer is a piece of equipment that anyone can easily build with items they likely already have in their home.

Looking To Photograph The Solar Eclipse With A Smartphone? Try These Features 

There are many types of pinhole viewers and ways that can get the same effect. We’ll show you how to build a pinhole viewer out of a cereal box.

What you will need:

  • An empty cereal box of medium to large size
  • White paper
  • Tin foil
  • A toothpick or other pinhole sized punch
  • Scotch tape
  • A sharp knife or blade

Step One:

On either side of the cereal box, cut a hole through which to look inside. The size of the hole should be big enough to look in, but not too big so that excess light can get in.

Credit: Erich Martin/NewHopeFreePress.com

Step Two:

Measure out enough tin foil to cover about one third of the top of the cereal box. The foil should be taped to the same side as the viewing hole you cut in step one.

Credit: Erich Martin/NewHopeFreePress.com

Step Three:

Using the toothpick, poke a hole in the center of the tin foil. This should be a clean puncture to allow the sun to shine through.

Credit: Erich Martin/NewHopeFreePress.com

Step Four:

Open the cereal box from the top and cut out a slim piece of printer paper. Tape this to the back of the box to allow for clean viewing of the projection.

Credit: Erich Martin/NewHopeFreePress.com

If every step is completed, you will have a handy pinhole viewer for the upcoming eclipse. Bucks County will not achieve totality, so the viewer will allow viewers to see the phases of the sun as they pass through.

Credit: Erich Martin/NewHopeFreePress.com

If you do not have the supplies or time to build a viewer, but want the same experience, a colander held up to the sidewalk will create the same effect.

NASA has offered an eclipse viewing sheet for more tips on how to stay safe.

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