Using Pinhole Projectors and Plain Mirrors
for the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Supplies of Safe Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses are running low. If you cannot find a pair of glasses you can easily make a pinhole projection system or simple mirror projector to see the crescent shape of the eclipse during the partial phases.

There are several types of pinhole PROJECTORS that you can make easily.

These items are PROJECTORS and are NOT held up to the eye!

Do a Google search on solar eclipse pinhole projectors for an extensive list of instructions and videos.
Build and experiment with these devices before eclipse day. You will see only a round disk image of the sun until the partial phase of the eclipse is underway.

The easiest thing to make is a simple index or other stiff card with a small hole in the center.

Make the hole with a single stick of a needle. Try to keep the edges of the hole smooth.
You can make several cards with different sized holes to check which one works best.

Hold the card so that the suns rays pass through the hole and are projected a short distance away on to a white piece of paper or other smooth light colored surface. When the sun is not being eclipsed, you will see a simple round dot. During the partial eclipse phases, you will see a "crescent" sun.

The larger the hole the larger the projected image; however, it may not have good, sharp edges to the projected image. With any of these pinhole projection techniques, you will NOT see sunspots, corona, prominences, or anything other than the shape of the sun.

Another easy to build projector is made with a shoe box, a white card, and a piece of aluminum foil.

Notice there is no bottom in the box. Hold the box so that the sun projects an image on to the white paper taped to the far end. Look at the projected image through the open bottom. This may involve standing with your back to the sun and holding the box out in front of you. The open bottom should face the ground so the projected image will appear as bright as possible.

Use a Colander or any other item with multiple holes

You can use any object that has multiple holes to produce multiple images of the crescent sun. The holes should be round if possible, but this is not super critical. You can get this effect from the mesh of hats, or by watching the image of the eclipsed sun as it passes through the leaves of trees.

Use a small flat mirror

This method will project an image up to 50 feet. You can hold the mirror in your hand or better yet, mount it to a support or tripod so it can be moved as the earth rotates.

Project the image of the sun on to a flat surface that is in the shade, say under a covered walkway or into an open garage. A large deep box with a white paper screen will work too.

In theory, if your projected image is large enough, you may be able to observe sunspots if they are present.

The smaller the hole, the sharper the image. A smaller hole will work better if the projection distance is short, 10 to 20 feet.

A larger hole will be needed to create a bright enough image at 50 feet. Experiment with hole sizes and projection distances to see what works best.


Make certain that this device is never left unattended so that someone does not get into the beam!

Whatever you do, do it safely!