So it’s the day before the eclipse, Amazon is out of stock on certified sun viewing glasses, but you still want to see the sun?  Don’t try your sunglasses and hope for the best!  You can make a pinhole viewer with stuff you have around the house, and see the eclipse without risking your sight.

In these directions, I’ve used a handy cereal box, but any opaque box that you can cut into will do.  (A Pringles tube would work great!)  First, cut a hole in one end of the box.  I used a hobby knife, but you do you.

Exacto knife cutting hole in the end of a cereal box

Next take a piece of aluminum foil about 3 x 3 inches, and poke a small hole in the middle using a pin or other sharp instrument (I’m using a compass out of my drafting set.)

Making a pinhole in aluminum foil

Tape this over the hole in the box.  I’m using a FamiLAB staple, blue tape.  I also sealed the box flaps down to prevent any light leaks that would make it harder to see the image.

the foil pinhole taped to the box

For the other end of the box, cut a piece of material to use as a white screen to view the image on.  I used foam core, but white paper or even the back of a piece of junk mail will do.

foam core cut to fit the box  foam core screen taped into the other end of the box

Seal up the back of the box, and then cut a hole in the middle of the box between the pinhole and the screen.  I used an H-shaped cut, so the resulting flaps will help shield the screen from stray light.

To use, go outside and stand with your back to the sun.  Look at your shadow on the ground, and tilt the box (foil pinhole towards the sun!) until the shadow is minimized.  Looking through the hole, you will see an image of the sun on the screen.  (This can be tricky the first time until you get a feel for how to line up the pinhole and the screen.)  Enjoy your view of the sun in safety!

The completed eclipse viewer The sun image in the eclipse viewer