What was up with all those cereal boxes during the eclipse?
At long last, Great American Eclipse has come to pass! Now you can wade through countless photos (good and not-so-good) of the eclipse in your social media feed. Be sure to keep an eye out for the most unique photos or ones that truly capture all the excitement around this once-in-a-lifetime event. For instance, you might find some photos that depict activity on the periphery of the event: including photos of people viewing the action above or pictures of adjacent skies, where stars and bright planets were visible for the moment of totality. Another you may encounter: photos of the eclipse recorded on a pinhole projector box.
What is a Pinhole Projector Box?
They come in all shapes and sizes, but essentially, a pinhole projector is light-proof box with something called a pinhole aperture. Light passes through the a tiny hole at one end of the box and appears reversed and inverted on the opposing surface – usually at the far end of the box. This phenomenon is known as a camera obscura (or ‘dark room’ in Latin). When you make your own, you’ll be holding history in your hands; the camera obscura technique has been used since at least the 16th century and is a precursor to the photographic camera.
Constructing a Pinhole Projector.
Constructing a pinhole projector is simple. The only materials you need are a box, tin foil, tape, a piece of paper, scissors, and a pin or small nail. On one side of the box, place a piece of paper, photo, or whatever solid material you wish to see the light reflected upon. On the opposing side, cut two holes: one for viewing and the other for the pinhole aperture. Cover one opening with a piece of tinfoil and tape, then poke a hole using a pin or small nail. And voila! You’ve created a pinhole projector! Now go outside, stand with the sun at your back, let light pass through the pinhole, and peek in to view.
Have Fun. Get Creative.
To create my pinhole projector, I used an instant oatmeal box (but you can use a cereal box or whatever's handy) and cut out the side on which the light will be projected. Then I replaced that side with a photo of my daughter. So instead of just seeing the sun on a blank piece of paper, the eclipse was superimposed on the existing photo! Since there is nothing behind the picture itself, light reflecting off the ground illuminates the photo which would otherwise be dark in the light-proof box.
Cheers to the Great American Eclipse – perhaps the most photographed day in history!