Contrary to popular belief, astronomy and stargazing is not only for a lucky few. There’s no need for fancy and expensive telescopes, binoculars or spy glasses. Nothing could be further from the truth! All of us can share and enjoy the night sky. In fact, you can get started without any gear at all, viewing meteor showers, comets, constellations, and the Moon. Just like the first ancient astronomers did. Be warned, however. The more time you spend looking upward, the deeper into the cosmos you’ll want to see and explore. Spending night after night stargazing is nothing short of addictive! Trust us, we’ve been there.
However, don't think only interesting things happen at night! Other cosmic phenomena are only visible during the day. Solar eclipses obviously steal the crown for this, and they’re actually not a rare occurrence at all. On average, a solar eclipse occurs once every 18 months. Which more or less means there are two visible solar eclipses from Earth for every three years. All the more reason to know how to view and admire them safely! Luckily, making your own eclipse viewer at home is a fun and inexpensive way to gaze at eclipses safely.
Because we’re well aware that you can’t get enough of the sky above us, we’ve prepared a special feature for you. By the end of this article you’ll have your first simple, affordable, and fun astronomy kit. Keep reading and find out how to make an eclipse viewer at home!
Creating Your Own Homemade Eclipse Viewer
First of all, let us set this in stone: never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection. You can seriously hurt your eyes permanently and even go blind. Which is why projecting the sun through your own DIY eclipse viewer is a safe and easy way to see an eclipse while keeping your eyes safe.
All you need to make an eclipse viewer at home are the following supplies: an empty cereal box, a pencil, pen, or marker, scissors, tin foil, tape, a piece of white paper, a nail or needle (or something sharp to make a pinhole)... And that’s basically it!
Read carefully and follow the next steps to make your own safe solar eclipse glasses at home:
- Start by emptying a cereal box. This will be the main part of our DIY eclipse viewer.
- Get a piece of white paper, place the cereal box upright on it, and trace its shape on the paper with a pencil, pen or marker.
- Cut out that shape with the scissors.
- Tape or glue the cut-out white paper to the inside of the box on the bottom.
- Close the top of the box, and cut out two square holes on the left and right sides. One of these will be where the light enters and the other where we look to see the eclipse's image on our white paper at the bottom of the box.
- Pace the tin foil over one of the holes, tape it down, and put a pinhole in it.
Viewing a Solar Eclipse Safely with your Eclipse Viewer
We can’t stress enough the permanent damage you can do to your eyes by looking at the sun directly. Which is why it’s so important to go at it safely! Your DIY eclipse viewer will keep you perfectly safe.
Firstly, you’ll want to stand so the sun is behind you. Make sure you can see the shadow you are casting with your own body. Hold the box in front of you so that the sunlight can enter the pinhole in the piece of foil on the one side of the box. Then you look into the other opening on the other side of the box, you will see the image of the sun and therfore the eclipse on the white paper at the bottom of the box
And most importantly, get your friends and family together for the next eclipse, and share a special moment with your homemade eclipse viewer!
Your own customized star map
If you are reading this, astronomy is probably one of your passions. Did you know that you can have your own customized star map of any significant date, like your birthday, ready to hang on your walls or even printed in a phone case? This is what Under Lucky Stars provides, based on the Bright Star Catalogue from Yale University. A truly unique gift, for yourself or for your loved ones!