DIY Eclipse Viewers

As you know, the solar eclipse is approaching fast!  Eye safety is of paramount importance.  Thanks to the Asterion Foundation and the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College, the Library District received 2400 Eclipse Viewers for free distribution at all of our locations.  The viewers are in high demand and very short supply and, at this point in time, if you haven't gotten a pair from the library or at stores, you are most likely not going to get them. 

Not to despair.  You can make your own eclipse viewers.  Before attempting to use DIY viewers, take these precautions:

  • Do not at any time look directly at the sun - eclipse or not.  Light or dark.  You can cook your retina.  Cooked eyeballs may be a good halloween treat but it comes at the cost of blindness.
  • Sunglasses and sports goggles are not strong enough to filter infrared radiation.  Solar viewers are 100,000 times darker than sunglasses.
  • Telescopes, binoculars, cameras and cellphones will not protect your eyes unless they are covered by a solar filter that meets the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.
  • Looking into a reflection from a mirror still shines the rays into your eyes and should never be used.  Think about how a piece of glass held to the ground can start a campfire.  Remember - roasted eyeballs are not a good thing. You won't even be able to see what you are eating.

DIY eclipse viewers project the image onto a white surface.  You look, not through a pinhole or lens, but at the projected image.

The Pinhole CaPinhole Cameramera  is by far the easiest, least expensive viewer.  NASA provides clear step by step instructions. 

Orbit Oregon shows how to make a pinhole projector from two paper plates.

Instructions for a box version of the Pinhole Camera  can be found on

Safe Solar Viewer


The Safe Solar Viewer  uses a reading glass lens, cardboard, and duct tape. This was created by T. R. Richardson, College of Charleston 
Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Sun Funnel Photo by Richard Tresch Fienberg



The Sun Funnel  is a much more complex, expensive model that can be used for group viewing. 




Jim Todd, Director of Space Science Education at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, provides five simple ways to safely view the eclipse in the video below.


Remember to protect your eyes.  A solar eclipse is an amazing sight and you will want to be able to view more amazing natural phenomenon in the future.

5 ways to safely view the 2017 total solar eclipse

Posted by RossW on August 15, 2017