Featured Project: Total Solar Eclipse Viewing

    On August 21, 2017, a Total Solar Eclipse will be visible from the United States when the moon passes in front of the sun (more details on NASA’s site!). Although, you should never look directly at the Sun, that doesn’t mean you can’t watch the eclipse in other ways. Here are a few ways to safely view the eclipse:

    Simple Pinhole

    You will need:

    • 2 sheets of white stiff cardboard or paper (easy option: 2 paper plates)
    • A sharp pushpin
    • Optional: Aluminum foil, Scissors
    1. Choose between setup method A or B.
      • Method A: Take one sheet of cardboard and use the pushpin to punch a small round hole in the middle of the sheet.
      • Method B: Cut a 1” hole in the middle of the cardboard. Tape a piece of aluminum foil over the hole. Use the pushpin to punch a small hole in the aluminum foil.
    2. Place the second sheet on the ground or on a table.
    3. With your back to the sun, hold the first sheet with the pinhole so that the light shines through the hole onto the second sheet. Adjust the distance between them to change the size of the image.

    Binocular Projection

    You will need:

    • Binoculars
    • Tripod
    • Cardboard sheet
    • Tape (e.g. Duct tape)
    • 1 sheet of white paper
    • Scissors
    1. Set up the binoculars on the tripod. Be careful not to place your hand or anything flammable near the eyepiece! The concentrated light can burn.
    2. Trace the lenses onto the cardboard and cut out the holes.
    3. Secure the cardboard so that the lenses stick through the holes, using tape to block any light from leaking through.
    4. Place the sheet of paper on the ground under the eyepieces so that you see the light from the binoculars.

    Local Events

    Look for local events to view the eclipse. Universities, Science Museums, and astronomy clubs may be offering public viewing using telescopes fitted with special sun-filters.

    Questions to ask yourself:

    • What causes a solar eclipse?
    • During a solar eclipse, what would an observer on the moon see when they look at the Earth?
    • What does the shape you see on the paper tell you about the orientation of the sun and moon?
    • If you were in a different location, how would what you see be different?

    Adapted from https://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/how-to-view-eclipse.