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How to View a Solar Eclipse

Source Institutions

    The Exploratorium

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How to View a Solar Eclipse

This is an activity to do when there is a solar eclipse! Eclipses do not happen frequently, but when one does, learners will be excited to discover that they can view the eclipse using a pinhole projector instead of looking at it directly, which can cause permanent eye damage (or even blindness!). The pinhole projector is easy and inexpensive to make with materials you can find around the house. If you like this activity, you may enjoy Bob Miller's light walk activities, which also involve looking at the sun through pinholes, but on a normal sunny day.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • long box (at least 6 ft)
  • aluminum foil
  • a pin
  • a sheet of white paper
  • binoculars (optional)
  • duct tape (optional)
  • tripod (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Light and Optics
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
      • Eclipses
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Sunlight and Color

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Hipschman, Ron


  • All Rights Reserved, Exploratorium,

Funding Sources:

  • NASA
  • The Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum


User Lists

This resource is part of these lists:

  • Thumbnail Sunny Day by llindskog on 2010-05-21
  • Thumbnail Sun Fun by Deborah Lee Rose on 2011-04-21