We were fortunate to be in the path of yesterday’s solar eclipse–too far north to get the full “ring of fire” effect, but at its fullest point the sun was about 94% blocked out by the shadow of the moon. Definitely an experience not to miss!
We did some research on safe eclipse methods and tried a couple of them. First we made two pinhole boxes–one short and one long. The long box was recommended as the projected image of the sun would be bigger the further its distance from the pinhole–but we found that at least for our box the longer distance also made the image so dim it was hard to see. Maybe a slightly larger hole would have worked better? The shorter box worked very well, and Jumping Spider found a way to prop it up with a stick so it kept pointing in the direction of the sun.We found however that our best viewing tool was a pair of binoculars–not of course to look through, but to project and image of the sun. Here’s how it works: cover one binocular lens with aluminum foil (unless you want to see double images), prop or hold a white viewing surface facing the sun (we used a small whiteboard) and hold the binoculars with the eyepiece (viewing end) facing the board and the other end pointed towards the sun. Lining the binoculars up with their own shadow helps you find the right angle. At this point, you should see a projected image of the sun on your viewing surface. You can move the binoculars farther away to get a larger image and closer to the viewing surface to get a smaller, brighter image, and use the regular focus mechanism to get it in focus. Worked beautifully for us. Here’s a picture of the setup as the eclipse was about to begin (that’s the image of the sun you see projected onto the shadow of my hand):
Here are more pictures as the eclipse progressed (we had partial cloud cover so portions were not visible to us):
Oh no! Someone’s taken a bite out of the sun!
After this point the cloud’s obscured the sun too much–but it came out again just past the fullest point of the eclipse:
The kids noted that as the sun was obscured it got darker and colder (even before the clouds got in the way).
We really had a great time with everybody out in the backyard (including a neighbor friend). I have to say though, no eclipse could be as cute as this: