DIY Eclipse Viewer - Safe and Adjustable!

5 Materials
20 Minutes

The Great American Eclipse is Monday, August 21 -- are you ready for it? Solar eclipse glasses are sold out, so I've designed an eclipse viewer made from things I had around the house. The great thing is that I can adjust the length of my viewer for a larger image of the eclipse, or shorten it for a brighter image. This is also a great way to beat the heat of the sun during the eclipse, as you'll keep your
diy eclipse viewer
Step 1: Gather your materials. You'll need both dark and white cardstock cut out in according to my pattern (see link above), tape (I recommend both Scotch tape and Duct tape), aluminum foil, and a pin or needle.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 2: Roll a rectangular section lengthwise around another cylindrical object, such as the aluminum foil tube (that's what I used), a tennis ball tube, or anything else cylindrical like this. Rolling it around a cylinder helps it bend without creasing.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 3: Tuck in three tabs into the three slots.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 4: Tape the tabs down.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 5: If you want to extend the length of the tube, for a larger image of the sun, repeat step 2 with another rectangle of cardstock but slide the end of the first tube you made into the new tube before you tape it down. Overlap the tubes by around one inch before securing them together. Repeat as many times as you wish to lengthen the tube as much as you want.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 6: Tape a piece of aluminum foil to the circle shape with the window in it.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 7: Bend in the tabs toward the side with the aluminum foil.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 8: Tape the circle with the aluminum foil to one end of the tube. Make sure the aluminum foil stays between the outside of the tube and the tabs on the circle so it blocks all light. Now carefully insert your pin or needle into the center of the aluminum foil to create your pinprick hole for the sun's light.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 9: Roll up the rectangle with the viewing window on one end and attach it to the other end of your viewing tube. Make sure the viewing window is at the END of the tube.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 10: Tape the white circle onto the other end cap (circle with tabs) and fold up the tabs toward the white circle.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 11: Insert the screen end cap you made in the previous step into the end of your viewing tube. Rather than tape it down, however, you should be able to wedge it into the end where it will stay.
diy eclipse viewer
Step 12: Duct tape all the joints while the tube is lying on a flat surface, like a table, to keep your tube straight and strengthen it. Your eclipse viewing tube is now ready to use!
diy eclipse viewer
To use your eclipse viewing tube, point the pinhole end of the tube directly at the sun. To aim your tube, move it around until you see a round spot of light on the paper at the opposite end of your tube—that light is the projected image of the sun! Trouble aiming your viewer? Find your box’s shadow on the ground, then move it until the shadow is as small as possible (it should look like a perfect circle). Do not look through the pinhole at the sun, nor look at the sun directly! Look only at the projected image on the white paper. Once you have it in position, rest it on your shoulder (if the angle works for that).
diy eclipse viewer
Here you can see the size and intensity of light in two different lengths of tubes. Pick the one that works best for you, or something in between. Please let me know if you have any questions, and enjoy the eclipse!

Suggested materials:

  • Cardstock, 12" x 12" (about 7 sheets, dark and white)  (craft store)
  • Scotch tape  (craft store)
  • Duct tape  (craft store)
See all materials
Jennifer Maker

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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3 of 5 comments
  • LibraryKAT
    on Aug 18, 2017

    Nice job! Listened to an NPR program warning that some of the glasses sold for viewing, even marked properly and sold by museums etc., were plain glass. This is SO much safer, not to mention cheaper.

  • Barb in Texas
    on Aug 19, 2017

    Well, the glasses should be like welders glasses. Go out in strong sunlight and look around (not at the sun) and if you can see anything, they will allow your eyes to be damaged. If everything is completely blacked out take a quick glance at the sun, it should be a very dull little dot with nothing else (trees, buildings, etc) showing. If you can't find glasses in time, this is a clever, if a bit complicated, way to see it.

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