How To Make A Pinhole Projector To View A Solar Eclipse

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Updated December 10, 2022

I don’t know about you, but whenever there’s a solar eclipse, I have always missed out on all of the action, simply because I didn’t know how to make a simple pinhole camera. Well, now I do know how to make one and I will be sharing that info with you. So let’s learn how to make a pinhole projector. These are a very primitive version of a home theater projector and that is an understatement. For an upgrade that’s still DIY, take a look at how to make a projector screen at home.

How To Make A Pinhole Projector To View A Solar Eclipse
How a pinhole projector works. Image credit:

Learn How To Make A Pinhole Projector

You need a pinhole projector if you want to safely view an eclipse. (You will still need to wear special viewing glasses before and after the moments when it’s totally blocked though, to protect your eyes.) Making a pinhole projector is so easy that a kid can do it. It’s much easier than cleaning an internal projector lens. In fact, it is a project that is often created in grade schools across the country. It is a great way to view a solar eclipse without potentially going blind.

What You Will Need To Make A Pinhole Projector

In the simplest terms, you just need two things: an object with a pinhole in it, and something to project the image on. The easiest and cheapest way is to use two pieces of rigid white paper and poke a pinhole in one with a pin. You can use something like paper plates, white cardboard, or heavy card stock. this is probably one of the most basic projectors you can make cheaply. And, there’s no need for a pricey screen like the Screen Innovations 5 series motorized 115 projector screen.

How To Use Your Pinhole Projector Creation

Using your pinhole projector is just as easy as creating it. Now that you’ve got your piece of paper with a pinhole, hold the piece of paper with the pinhole up and let the sunlight shine through it. You’ll use the other piece as a projector screen by putting it on a wall or on the ground. In this way, you’ll be able to see a projected image of the partially hidden Sun on that screen in a safe way.

Remember to have your back to the sun and look at the projection created by the pinhole on the wall, Do not look at the Sun through the pinhole. That will damage your eyes.

How To Make A Pinhole Projector To View A Solar Eclipse
A pinhole projector in use. Image credit: NASA/JPL

How Does A Pinhole Projector Work?

Unlike electronic projectors, like the Optoma S334E SVGA projector, pinhole cameras use what is called the camera obscura effect. You see normally light travels in straight lines. So when an object is lit up, the light will bounce off of it in a straight line. The pinhole in the paper lets a small amount of that light through, and an inverted image forms on the other side of the hole. They may not be one of our best projectors under a grand, but good enough for an eclipse.

Aside from being a safe way of viewing an eclipse, this eclipse viewer is also a fun and easy project to do with your kids. Now that you know how to make a pinhole projector, you can use it anytime an eclipse happens and stay safe by protecting your eyes. Learn more about how projectors work.

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