This Friday, 20th March, in the UK, there is going to be a partial solar eclipse! It’s no secret that if you look directly at the sun, you can damage the retina permanently. It’s incredibly dangerous to look at the sun, which makes watching a solar eclipse difficult. So with the imminent eclipse bearing down in us, how to watch a solar eclipse safely is a very good question!
These kind of wonderful natural events don’t happen every day, so it’s something that you should definitely try and show your kids. Telling a child not to look at the sun though, can only result in one thing… the child looking at the sun! It’s like if I asked you right now, not to think of a black cat… what have you just done?
Anyway, I’m no scientist, but my brother is and having picked his brains, here are some safe ways to watch the solar eclipse!
Make your own Pin Hole Camera
- You will need 2 sheets of paper or card. Ideally, one black piece and a sharp pin.
- Take the black sheet of card/paper and make a very small hole in the middle of it using the pin. Make sure that the hole is round and smooth.
- Hold this piece in front of the sun making sure YOU DON’T LOOK AT THE SUN DIRECTLY!
- The second piece of paper will act as a screen. Hold it at a distance so that an inverted image of the Sun is projected on it through the pin hole.
- To make the image of the Sun larger, move the screen away from the pin holed sheet.
Make a lens projector
- You will need a pair of binoculars or telescope and a sheet of plain white paper.
- Take the binoculars or telescope and aim the large end of it at the Sun. The Sun will shine through the lens and project an image onto the sheet of paper acting as a screen.
Use a colander
- Take an ordinary kitchen colander and stand with your back to the Sun holding it up in line with the Sun. The holes in the colander will act in the same way as a pin hole but you’ll have multiple eclipse images. You will still need a sheet of paper to project the images on to.
Use a Bucket of Water
- Fill a bucket with water and you can watch the eclipse in the reflection on the water’s surface. It needs to be a calm day with no wind as any ripples will distort the image.
- Always keep your back to the sun when looking at a pinhole or lens projection.
- Do not look at the Sun through the pinhole or the telescope or binoculars.
- Normal sunglasses are NOT sufficient protection. You will still damage your eyes.
Here are a few links to some websites with more information!
Are you planning on watching the eclipse?
*Disclaimer: This is not expert advice! Do your own research too!