Fun in the Sun

Pinhole Sun Viewer

In this activity you will build a pinhole projector that will allow you to view the sun safely, even during eclipses!

Materials

  • Shoebox or long box with a lid (the longer the better)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Scissors
  • Safety pin or needle
  • Tape
  • White piece of paper

Let’s get to work!

  1. Use your scissors to cut a hole into the short end of the cardboard box.
  2. Cut a piece of aluminum foil a bit larger than the hole in your box, and tape it tightly into place over the hole.
  3. Carefully poke a pinhole into the centre of the aluminum foil.
  4. Cut a viewing hole into the cardboard on the side of the box, at the opposite end of the pinhole (see photo of step 4). This will be where you look into the box, so be sure the hole is big enough for you to see in. 
  5. Tape the white piece of paper in place inside the box, on the end opposite the pinhole. This is the screen where the sun image will appear.
  6. Put the lid on your shoebox, and decorate however you’d like with construction paper, markers or stickers.
  7. Go outside on a sunny day and point the pinhole side of your viewer towards the sun. Look through the viewer hole and adjust the angle until the white disk of the sun appears on the screen.

Take note!

Never look at the sun directly with your bare eyes, it can cause serious damage.

What happened?

The Sun’s light rays travel in a straight line, lighting up everything they touch. When it hits the projector, only a very small amount of light is able to pass through the pinhole (see the diagram below). Inside the dark box, you see the small image of the Sun, as it appears in the sky. This same idea of light traveling through a pinhole is used in cameras too.

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