Michael A. Covington    Michael A. Covington, Ph.D.
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How to make a safe eclipse viewer

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How to make a safe eclipse projector

Most of the U.S. has a partial eclipse of the sun coming up on Saturday, October 14. You can view it safely with eclipse glasses if you have them — or you can build this gadget. Read on...

I call this an eclipse projector to emphasize that you don't look through it. Teachers will find it especially safe because the children using it are facing away from the sun, obviously not endangering their eyes by peering at it.

You'll need two paper plates, or pieces of paper or cardboard about the same size.


In one of the paper plates, make one or more holes, about 1/16 to 1/8 inch in diameter. One hole is enough. I made two to show that the holes don't need to be perfectly round; two holes of different shapes give the same image. You may want to try several holes of different sizes.


Now hold them so that the shadow of the first one falls on the second one, and you can see a spot of sunlight coming through the hole. Here there are two holes and two spots. (If you don't want to have to hold the plates this far apart, start with smaller holes, like 1/16 inch.)

Photo by Melody Covington

Look closely at the spot or spots. The spots are round because the sun is round. During an eclipse they will be crescent-shaped, and you can watch the progress of the eclipse.

Photo by Melody Covington

And that's all there is to it!


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