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Watch the Eclipse with a Pinhole Camera

Pinhole cameras are light-proof boxes with a small hole in one side. Simple pinhole cameras can be made from empty boxes or cardboard rolls, and like a regular camera, the 'pinhole' works as a tiny aperture.  Light passes through the pinhole and projects an inverted image of the eclipse onto the opposite side of the box. This effect is known as the camera obscura effect. 

Create Your Own Pinhole Camera

 One of the most exciting ways to watch the progress of the eclipse is with your own pinhole camera. There are many easy methods of making one—most with items you likely already have in your kitchen, garage, or craft room.
We've got several ideas for pinhole cameras you can make, or,
download NASA’s unique state or US shaped pinhole
cameras here!  Be sure to share your images
with us @GoEclipse and #GoEclipse

Items You Will Need:

  • Empty paper towel roll
  • Heavy duty paper plates
  • Large piece of cardboard or old pizza box
  • Empty cardboard cereal box or tissue box
  • Ball point pen 
  • Tin foil
  • Rubber bands/tape
  • Large white plastic board or white bed sheet
 
 
 
 
 

Paper Towel Roll Pinhole Camera

Here is a very easy pinhole camera to make with kids.  All you will need is an empty paper towel roll, a square of tin foil (big enough to put over one end of the paper
towel roll), a rubber band or tape, and a ball point pen. To create the camera,
wrap the piece of tin foil over one end of the paper towel roll and
secure tightly with a rubber band or tape.  Pierce one small
pinhole through the foil with the tip of a
ball point pen and voila!  Your pinhole
camera is ready.

How to Use Your Pinhole Camera:
Lay a large white bed sheet on the ground or over a patio table or chair, and be sure it is fully exposed to the sun during the eclipse. With your back to the sun, hold the end of the pinhole camera covered with tin foil up to face the sun, allowing the light to project down through the pinhole, and onto the sheet or ground. What do you see? Tell us @GoEclipse and #GoEclipse.

Items You Will Need:

  • Empty paper towel roll
  • Ball point pen
  • Tin foil
  • Rubber bands/tape
  • Large white plastic board or
    white bed sheet
 
 
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Heavy Duty Paper Plate Pinhole Camera

All you need for this pinhole camera are two heavy duty paper plates and a ball point pen.  Simply punch a hole through one of the paper plates, and your pinhole camera is ready to 'take' amazing pictures! Don't forget to share
with us @GoEclipse and #GoEclipse.

How to use your pinhole camera:

Lay one of the two paper plates on your patio table or on the ground. Alternately, you can also use a large white bed sheet or towel. Then, with the eclipse behind you (so you are NOT looking directly at the sun), hold the paper plate with the hole up to the sun and allow the sunlight to project through the pen hole onto the other plate (or sheet). As sunlight passes through the pinhole, look for the unique images and shapes. What are they? You can even spell out names, like Noelle did for her daughter, Capri!

Items You Will Need:

  • Two heavy duty paper plates
  • Ball point pen 
  • Optional: Large white plastic board or bed sheet
 
 
 

Empty Cereal Box Pinhole Camera

This method actually creates a bit more sophisticated method of watching the eclipse as the box creates an enclosed dark area to watch the light. All you need for this camera is an empty box of your favorite breakfast cereal,  tin foil, tape, scissors, and a ball point pen. With scissors, cut a small square out of the two top corners where the box flaps meet, leaving the middle portion intact.
Tape a piece of foil securely over one corner, and then poke
a small pinhole through the foil. NASA has also created
a helpful video explaining each step. Check it out!

How to use your pinhole camera:

Take the cereal box outside and stand in direct sunlight so the sun can project light through the hole.  Then, hold the end of the cereal box with the hole up to one eye, and look inside at the images projected on the inside of the box.  Over time, the images will change. What do they start out as and what do they change to? Show us @GoEclipse and #GoEclipse!

Items You Will Need:

  • Empty cardboard cereal box
    or tissue box
  • Ball point pen
  • Tin foil
  • Tape
  • Scissors
 
 
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Cardboard Pinhole Camera

A very creative pinhole camera! Because you are using a larger piece of cardboard, you can create more intricate designs or images, and even spell out words.  Using scissors or a ball point pen, pierce holes through the cardboard into whatever shapes you would like to project. You can create shapes that spell out names, logos, pictures…anything you can think of! This
pinhole camera is a great option for students,
businesses or eclipse-chaser groups. Dazzle
us with your creations
@GoEclipse and #GoEclipse

Method:
 

Lay a large white bed sheet on the ground or over a patio table or chair, and be sure it is fully exposed to the sun during the eclipse. With your back to the sun, hold the cardboard up so the sunlight can project through the pierced cardboard.  Then watch the excitement as whatever you spelled out projects onto the ground, first as circles, and slowly changing to crescent shapes and back again as the eclipse progresses.

Items You Will Need:

  • Large piece of cardboard or
    old pizza box
  • Ball point pen or scissors
  • Large white plastic board or
    white bed sheet
 
 
 

Colanders,Your Hands…Even Leaves!

The easiest pinhole camera ever? Simply use an object that already has holes, such as a kitchen colander, your interlaced fingers or a tree branch with leaves! Then show us your stuff @GoEclipse and #GoEclipse!

Method:
 

With your back to the sun, simply hold the colander or your interlaced hands up to the sun and let the light which filters through the holes project down onto the ground or white sheet. How many crescent moon shapes do you see?

Items You Will Need:

  • Kitchen colander
  • A tree branch (with leaves)
  • Your hands
  • Large white plastic board or
    white bed sheet

Eye Will Be Sun Safe

And always wear eclipse glasses! Your eyes cannot detect heat like your skin, and even just a few seconds of looking at the sun can cause severe damage
or blindness. So never look directly at the sun without a filter or eclipse glasses. A camera, cell phone, binoculars, a telescope...none of
these lenses are filters. When you want to watch an eclipse,
remember: Eye Will Be Sun Safe...and Wear Eclipse Glasses