Eclipse That Led Us to Make a Pinhole Projector

Mr B, my husband was traveling when he informed Little B and I about the then upcoming solar eclipse (that later took place on March 9th). He knew we were going to love it! Isn’t that such a nice feeling when your husband is thousands of miles away from you and still he has his heart with you right here!

Our mother-daughter duo is always looking for new things to do and solar eclipse looked like a perfect week-long project. I always start a science project by searching about it over Youtube. Yeah Youtube, you heard me right. I think that Youtube gives better results than Google when it comes to any science phenomenon. Also kids find it easier to understand through a video instead of text and still pictures.

We started off by seeing many videos of how sun, earth and moon position themselves in space at other times and at the time of eclipse. We saw real videos of eclipses as observed from earth and as observed from space. Solar eclipses, total or partial, are beautiful and the images were enough to pump me and Little B up for the next project – making a pinhole projector.

It is of utmost important that we never ever see sun with naked eyes. If we cannot see solar eclipse with naked eyes, how else can we see it? Through special eclipse glasses or through a pinhole projector! We decided to go with the later.

Pinhole Projector for Observing Sun

What You Would Need

1 Long box (The box I have used is a little more than 1.5 feet in length.  However, you should try finding a longer one as the longer the better. Size of the image that the box is going to project is going to be just 1/100th of the length of the box. If you can’t find a long box at all, consider joining two short boxes to make a longer one.)

Aluminum foil

1 sheet of white paper

Pair of Scissors

X-Acto knife of any other kind of box cutter


A thumb tack

How To Go About It

At one of the ends of the box, draw a small square/rectangle right in the middle. Cut that small square/rectangle using an X-Acto knife.

summer activity for kids

Cut a piece of aluminum foil just big enough to cover the square/rectangle you’ve cut earlier. You have to cover the foil from the outside of the box. Secure the foil over the square/rectangle using tape around the edges.

pinhole projector for watching sun

Take a thumbtack and poke a tiny hole in the aluminum foil. Make sure that the hole is very small. In case you end up with a big hole, take off that aluminum foil and use another foil.

pinhole projector for watching eclipse

At the end other from where you’ve taped the aluminum foil, on the inside of the box, place a white sheet right in front of the poked hole. This sheet will act as your screen.

summer activity for kids

How To Use the Pinhole Projector for Observing Sun

Place the projector so that the hole of the aluminum foil is facing towards the sun. As the light from the sun passes through the hole, it is going to project an image on the white sheet at the opposite end.

pinhole projector for watching sun

If you see a nice clear circle, that’s your sun and that means that your projector is working fine.

pinhole projector for observing sun

We made the pinhole projector for observing a partial solar eclipse that was supposed to be in Bangalore right after sunrise. We were up and ready with our projector but unfortunately, it was a foggy day. The fog cover was so thick, we weren’t even able to make out a sunrise.

It was a little sad, but that’s ok. We still have our pinhole projector for observing sun and play around with!

pinhole projector for observing sun

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7 Responses

  1. Bhawna Saini says:

    @Shantanu Yeah making the projector was fun, only if we would have been able to see the eclipse at all. About solar glasses, did you buy them or DIYed them?

  2. Bhawna Saini says:

    @valj2750 I have observed the same as well. There have been times when I felt my daughter was able to grasp concepts beyond her age only because she learned them hands on. Did you have any special moments about the same while teaching at school?

  3. Shantanu says:

    Very interesting way of observing solar eclipse. Have always watched through solar glasses. Tonprepare that projector would have been fun.

  4. valj2750 says:

    This is a wonderful project for your daughter. I taught school for a long time and those hands on experiences are always more meaningful.

  5. freya3377 says:

    I remember making this in school for a total eclipse. It had been so much fun. It was the first time we also heard of and used special glasses for the eclipse. But what made that eclipse special was Granddad teaching us how to make smoked glasses to watch the eclipse through.
    You take an old pair of glasses and get smoke to collect on it but holding it high up over a candle, till all of the glass is covered with a layer of soot. This method is not very safe though said my teacher, hence the eclipse glasses. 🙂

  6. Bhawna Saini says:

    @freya3377 smoked glasses?! that does sounds like the kind of things grandparents teach! and also the kind of thing we tend to always remember!

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