How to make a pinhole projector with a cereal box to safely view an image of the solar eclipse

No special eclipse glasses? No problem. All you need is a cereal box, printer paper, tin foil, and tape.

ByEvan Wyno GMA logo
Friday, March 29, 2024
How to DIY safe eye gear to view the solar eclipse
No special eclipse glasses? No problem. All you need is a cereal box, printer paper, tin foil, and tape.

Excitement is building for the total solar eclipse on April 8.

A total solar eclipse is when the moon moves between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun and the sky will darken, according to NASA.

Are you in the path of totality? See a map of April 8th's total solar eclipse.

Despite the anticipation for the upcoming total eclipse or any other time, don't look directly at the sun during the celestial event without protective eye gear, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. ISO-certified solar eclipse glasses are one way to view the celestial event to help prevent potential vision loss.

And if you have no special eclipse glasses? No problem. All you need is a cereal box, printer paper, tin foil, and tape to make your own pinhole projector to safely view the solar eclipse at home with your back facing the sun. This setup with items from your house allows you to safely observe an image of the solar eclipse without directly exposing your eyes to the sun.

The total solar eclipse will be visible along a narrow track stretching from Texas to Maine on April 8, 2024. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout all 48 contiguous states.
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee offers a clever and educational workaround for those unable to acquire special ISO-certified viewing glasses, which were highly sought after during the last eclipse in 2017. Zee demonstrates how to create a simple yet effective DIY pinhole viewer using household items, ensuring everyone can safely partake in the celestial event.

Here is what you need to make your DIY solar eclipse pinhole viewer:

  • White paper (printer paper)
  • A cereal box
  • Aluminum foil (tin foil)
  • Scissors
  • A pencil
  • Tape
Ginger Zee, ABC
Ginger Zee, ABC's Chief Meteorologist, demonstrates how to create a solar eclipse viewer.
ABC News

Step-by-step guide to making a DIY pinhole projector

1. Prepare the viewer vase: Begin with a cereal box and use a pencil to trace its bottom onto a piece of white printer paper. This traced shape, once cut out, will fit snugly at the bottom of your cereal box, serving as a clean backdrop to view the eclipse.

2. Secure the base: After cutting out the traced shape, it's crucial to tape it firmly at the bottom of the cereal box. Secure this piece to avoid any displacement that could disrupt the viewing experience.

3. Modify the box: The next step involves cutting out the two sides on the top of the cereal box while leaving the center intact. This adjustment ensures you have a dedicated space to see through and observe the eclipse safely.

4. Apply the foil and create the pinhole: Cover one of the open sides at the top with aluminum foil, securing it in place with tape. With the foil firmly attached, use a sharp object like a nail to poke a tiny hole in it. This small aperture will be your window to the eclipse, allowing sunlight to enter the box in a controlled manner.

5. Viewing the eclipse: To use the viewer, position yourself with your back to the sun so that the sunlight enters through the pinhole onto the white paper at the bottom of the box. Look through the open side opposite the foil to see the projected image of the eclipse. This setup lets you safely observe the solar eclipse without directly exposing your eyes to the sun.

TUNE IN | ABC News, National Geographic announce live 'Eclipse Across America' special on April 8

To celebrate a rare total solar eclipse that won't happen again until 2044, ABC News and Nat Geo will air a two-hour live special on April 8.

You can check out more eclipse coverage here.