Make a solar viewer

Make a solar viewer

Pinhole projectors help you to look at the sun safely

Sometimes you want to view the Sun, perhaps during a solar eclipse or the Transit of Venus.

It is very dangerous to look directly at the Sun, even if you're wearing sunglasses. It can badly damage your eyesight.

Here is one way to look at the Sun safely, using a pinhole projector.

What you need:

  • Long box (if you can't find a long box, tape two smaller boxes together). The longer the box, the bigger your image will be.
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Foil
  • Pin
  • Sellotape

How to:

Ask an adult for help using scissors and pins

  1. Cut a square in the centre of one end of the box, around 5cm x 5cm.
  2. Sellotape a piece of foil over the square.
  3. Use the pin to poke a small hole in the centre of the foil.
  4. Sellotape white paper to the inside of the other end of the box.
  5. Stand with the Sun behind you. Hold the box upside down so the pinhole is behind you. Make sure you can't see the foil.
  6. The Sun will shine through the pinhole. An image of the Sun will be projected on the white paper.

See Kitchen Pantry Scientist for pictures showing how to make a pinhole projector.

If you want, you can use two pieces of cardboard instead of a box. One piece of card will have foil and a pinhole in it, the other piece of card will be white.

Hold the pinhole as far away from the white card as you can. The farther away you can hold the pinhole, the bigger your image will be.

What's happening?

Light from the Sun enters through the pinhole. The pinhole in the foil projects the light onto the back of the box, which acts as a screen.


Curriculum information