Use our shipping box to make a pinhole camera

Looking through pinhole camera

It has been dubbed The Great American Eclipse, and it's a once-in-a-lifetime view for most of us. You see, August 21 will be the first time a total solar eclipse will be viewable across the United States since 1918!

If you find yourself running a bit behind in the rush for solar glasses, or if you just want to have a little fun, you can use the box that your most recent order of bike gear shipped in to make a pinhole camera, allowing you to safely view the eclipse.

Our resident science guy, Peter, threw one together for us to show how it works. Here's what he did:

Supplies for pinhole camera

What you'll need: Carboard box, aluminum foil, tape, scissors and/or box cutter, white printer paper, pin or paper clip

Step 1. Cut a hole a few inches wide through the cardboard on one of the smaller sides of the box.

Tape foil over hole

Step 2. Tape a piece of foil over the hole.

Step 3. Cut another hole on the opposite side of the box. This hole should be a bit bigger than the first one.

White paper over opposite hole

4. Tape a piece of white paper over the hole. You may also use a white grocery bag if your paper is too thick to let much light through.

Poke hole in foil

Step 5. Take a pin or paper clip and poke a small hole through the center of the foil.

Step 6. Point your box at the sun, foil side up, and look at the paper end. (See the image at the top of the post.) You'll see a small circle of light coming throught the paper. And if you're looking at the eclipse, you'll see the outline of the sun blocked by the moon. How cool is that?!

Warning: Don't look directly at the sun before you point your pinhole camera at it. And if your box isn't wide enough to block the sun from shining in your eyes while you're looking, you'll probably want to wear some additional eye protection.

Tip: The longer the box, the bigger the light image will be on the viewing end. Maybe you should buy a mountain bike handlebar or something to get a longer box. Or cut up a bigger box to make a longer one. Also, make sure there aren't any holes in the corners of the box or elsewhere in the cardboard so you limit the extra light entering the box to give you a sharper image.

Bonus tip: If you really want to make the image bigger, look at it through a magnifying glass.