Video How To For Kids: Making Your Own Solar Eclipse Viewer

Tom's Hardware's parent company, Purch, has been working this summer on some initiatives around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), which is typically associated with education curriculum for those topics in an effort to improve the future stature and competitiveness of the United States. In fact, we just finished shooting a video series with kids, where we teach them how to build a PC. (Nothing like getting the next generation of Tom's Hardware readership get off on the right foot.) We'll be publishing those step-by-step videos right here, of course.

Meanwhile, our sister site, Live Science, has created a fun little video (above) for the upcoming solar eclipse, which is happening on August 21. This is the first total eclipse in 40 years that's visible from the continental U.S. and the first time in 99 years that the path of totality (when the sun's light is completely blocked by the moon) will travel across the length of the continent.

Because of the danger involved in looking at the sun, even during an eclipse, there are all sorts of solutions that let you watch it indirectly. The best way is using a pinhole camera, and these are fairly easy to build using household supplies, like a box, tinfoil, a white sheet of paper, tape, a needle, and an X-Acto knife.

The video above, produced by Live Science, shows the process for building this. For those of you with kids, this might be a perfect little summer's day project to keep them busy, or if they're really young, a project for the entire family in anticipation of this historic event.

Oh, and here's a quick tip on how to use the final product: When the time comes for the eclipse, hold the shoe box so that it lines up with its own shadow, demonstrating that it is aligned with light from the sun. Stand so that when you look through the viewing hole, you can see a tiny bead of light on the image screen; that's the sun. During the eclipse, you'll see the shadow of the moon pass in front of the sun.

Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson is Editor-at-Large of Tom's Hardware US.
  • rwinches
    Two paper plates poke one or more pin hole(s) in one plate turn your back to the sun.
    Hold the pinhole plate above the other plate and focus by adjusting the distance between the plates.