We made this solar eclipse pinhole viewer from shoe boxes, also called a shoebox eclipse theater or pinhole camera, to watch the solar eclipse. They make great STEM crafts or solar system projects to go along with viewing a partial or total solar eclipse from home or for school classroom kids activities. You can make this project with a few simple supplies you already have at home!
Homemade Solar Eclipse Pin Hole Viewer Using A Shoebox
We happened to be at the beach during the solar eclipse and had an unobstructed view on the total solar eclipse! We made this easy shoe box solar eclipse viewer to safely watch the moon eclipse the sun! And the best part? You can make this safe solar eclipse pinhole projector with supplies you have at home!
How do I make an eclipse viewing box?
How to make a solar eclipse viewer for kids:
- Shoebox with lid
- Aluminum foil
- White sheet of paper
- Push pin or needle
Keep scrolling for the full instructions on how to build a shoebox pinhole projection eclipse viewer for kids, including step-by-step pictures for making a DIY safe solar eclipse pinhole projector!
What is a solar eclipse viewer?
A solar eclipse viewer is a safe way to watch the sun during a solar eclipse and the path of the total eclipse without damaging your eyes. Usually, it looks like a pair of cardboard glasses with super dark lenses that block out most of the sun’s blinding rays. You can also make other ways to view the solar eclipse like a shoebox viewer or even using a colander to reflect the movement.
Solar Eclipse Viewing Safety
Never stare at the sun without one during an eclipse! It’s super dangerous for your eyes and can damage them! The most popular way to view solar eclipses are with solar eclipse glasses. These are specially designed glasses with extremely dark lenses that block out most of the sun’s light. They allow you to view the sun directly during an eclipse safely.
IMPORTANT TIP: If you’re buying solar eclipse viewing glasses, make sure you get the NASA-approved solar eclipse glasses like these.
However, what if you don’t have solar eclipse glasses or solar viewing glasses? What are the other ways to view with proper eye protection?
How can I watch eclipse without glasses?
- Solar Viewing Binoculars: Some binoculars like this come with solar filters that allow you to get a magnified view of the eclipse. Ensure the binoculars have proper solar filters before use. IMPORTANT NOTE: These are special binoculars. Do not use regular binoculars for viewing the sun!
- Solar Viewing Telescopes: Similar to binoculars, certain special telescopes have solar filters that enable you to observe the eclipse with greater detail.
- Pinhole Projector: Create a simple pinhole projector using cardboard or a shoebox. It projects an image of the sun onto another surface, like a wall or another piece of cardboard, allowing you to watch the eclipse indirectly. SEE DIRECTIONS BELOW!
- Solar Filter for a Camera: If you’re into photography, you can attach a solar filter to your camera lens to capture images of the eclipse safely.
- Welding Glass: Welding glass with a shade rating of 12 or higher can be used to safely view the sun during an eclipse. Be sure to inspect it for any defects or cracks.
- Colander Eclipse Viewer: You can hold a colander over a white sheet of paper and you can see the shadow of the eclipse crescents projected onto the paper.
- Crescent Shadows: As the eclipse progresses, you can watch the ground for crescent-shaped shadows that form through the gaps in leaves or other objects.
- Eclipse Viewing Cards: Some specially designed cards or viewers have a small projection screen covered in a solar filter material. You can look through the viewer to see the eclipse.
GREAT FOR ECLIPSE LESSONS: Eclipse Science Ideas and Kids Activities for Astronomy Studies
Here’s how to use a shoebox to make a solar eclipse viewer…
How To Make A Shoe Box Solar Eclipse Viewer For Solar Eclipse Events
This is an easy solar eclipse viewing tool to make with kids for watching a solar eclipse safely (and an alternative to a solar eclipse glasses homemade project)! Here’s how we made our shoebox viewing box for watching the ring of fire solar eclipse (annular eclipse) or even a partial eclipse — an easy way to view. Kids will have a lot of fun making their own pinhole projector!
To Make A Pinhole Viewer Shoebox Step-By-Step
- Shoebox with lid (or small cardboard box)
- Scissors (or craft knife like an x-acto knife or box cutter)
- Piece of the aluminum foil
- White piece of paper
- Push pin or needle
CHECK OUT MORE SOLAR ECLIPSE IDEAS: HOW TO THROW A SOLAR ECLIPSE WATCH PARTY
1. MAKE A SCREEN
Cut a piece of white paper to fit on the inside of one end of the shoebox. Tape it on the inside of the box.
This acts as the “viewing screen” for viewing the eclipse shadows with your solar viewer. It’s a viewing surface that will reflect the shadows of the eclipse movement.
2. CUT THE VIEWING HOLE AND PROJECTION HOLE ON THE END OF THE SHOE BOX.
On the opposite side of the shoebox (from where you taped the white paper), carefully cut a square hole out of the corner of each side of the shoebox (on the end of the box).
CRAFT TIP: Adults only for cutting the rectangular hole!
When you look through the holes, you will see the white paper you just taped. (The back bottom of the box is where the projected image will appear on the white paper.)
You will use one of the squares for viewing and the other square will be covered to create the projection hole.
3. CREATE THE PROJECTION PART.
Tape a small square piece of aluminum foil over the left hole. Don’t put tape across the middle! Only tape it around the edges of the piece of tinfoil.
Use the push pin or needle to carefully puncture a small hole (pinhole!) in the center of the foil. That’s how the sunlight will pass for viewing a reflected image of the eclipse.
Place the lid back on your shoe box. (If there are other holes in the box, cover them with dark tape or dark paper.)
4. FOR VIEWING ON DAY OF ECLIPSE.
To use your pinhole shoebox viewer, find an unobstructed sunny spot and face your back toward the sun.
Position the box so that the sun hits your back and also the aluminum foil covered hole is on the left-hand side.
Look into the open cutout hole (rectangular hole without aluminum foil) to the white paper taped at the back of the box. You will see the eclipse movement reflected on the white “screen” you made at the back of the box.
It may take you a minute of moving around to find the line of sight for the projection of the sun and get it positioned correctly so that you see the sun in the box.
At the beginning you will see a white circle of sun, but as the moon eclipse the sun, you will see the shape and silhouette of the moon passing in front of the sun reflected onto the white paper “screen” in the box.
Keep watching the entire time for the progress of the eclipse and the projection of the eclipse on the white paper screen in your shoe box.
REMEMBER: NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THE SUN! It’s can cause serious eye damage!
FUN IDEA FOR RECIPE & CRAFT: Make homemade sun tea to go with your solar eclipse craft!
Eclipse Books For Kids
Children’s Books On Solar Eclipse and Lunar Eclipse:
- What Happens During An Eclipse? Astronomy Book Best Sellers | Children’s Astronomy Books
- Something is Covering the Sun! Solar Eclipse Explained
- What Is a Solar Eclipse? (Who HQ Now)
- Eclipse: How the 1919 Solar Eclipse Proved Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity (Moments in Science)
- Totality! An Eclipse Guide in Rhyme and Science
MORE FUN SOLAR ECLIPSE CRAFTS: MAKE A SOLAR ECLIPSE T SHIRT THAT GLOWS!