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Solar Eclipse Safety Tips

As a mother and an optometrist , I have explained to my children that there really is no fool-proof way to avoid the damaging rays from the exciting but potentially sight-threatentiag eclipse occurring on August 21, 2017.  The best (and safest) way to view it is to watch it in real-time via live stream or afterward on TV. There is much controversy surrounding the safety of the glasses being sold as well as given out to students to view the eclipse. The truth is, you really can’t be sure of the level of protection you or your children are getting in your “eclipse glasses” even when we are told that as long as they are stamped with ISO 12312-2 they are “safe.” In addition, most of the glasses are intended to fit the larger faces of adults and are ill-fitting to a child’s face, so there is a lot of room for sun to get through those areas that are not covered. Children also have a tendency to be curious  and want to “peek” around the glasses or even take them off.

So, what can you do if you want to be outside to have the “full experience” during the eclipse but you are afraid your glasses aren’t safe enough? The safest way possible to view the eclipse outside is through a simple indirect pinhole projection system with your back to the sun. It is safe, inexpensive and makes a great science project for your children.


Solar eclipses can look spectacular, but the Sun’s UV radiation can cause permanent eye damage or even blindness. Make your own pinhole projector to view a solar eclipse.

One of the easiest ways to safely watch a solar eclipse is to use 2 sheets of cardboard and make your own simple pinhole projector

Projecting the Sun through a box projector or simply 2 pieces of cardboard or two paper plates is a safe and easy way to view a solar eclipse

DIY Simple Card Projector:

You Need:

  • 2 pieces of stiff white cardboard
  • e.g. 2 paper plates
  • alternatively, 2 sheets of plain white paper
  • a thumbtack, a sharp pin, or a needle

What to Do:

The concept of a pinhole projector:

Using 2 pieces of cardboard or paper you can project an image of the Sun that does not hurt your eyes.

To make a quick version of the pinhole projector, take a sheet of paper and make a tiny hole in the middle of it using a pin or a thumbtack. Make sure that the hole is round and smooth.

With your back towards the Sun, hold 1 piece of paper above your shoulder allowing the Sun to shine on the paper.

The 2nd sheet of paper will act as a screen. Hold it at a distance, and you will see an inverted image of the Sun projected on the paper screen through the pinhole.

To make the image of the Sun larger, hold the screen paper further away from the paper with the pinhole.

A box projector works on the same principles, it requires a little more time and a few extra items to construct, but it is more sturdy.

Keep Safe!

Never look at the Sun directly without protective eye gear. Even sunglasses cannot protect your eyes from the damage the Sun’s rays can do to them.

Always keep your back towards the Sun while looking at a pinhole projection!!!!

Do not look at the Sun through the pinhole.



~Dr. Susan Lee
Lake Oconee Eye Care




NOTE: This experiment is likely too difficult for those children in k-1st. For this age group, we strongly recommend that you have them watch the eclipse indoors through live stream as the safest option.