Skip to content

Bright idea: Simple design allows local students to safely see eclipse

'At no time am I looking at the sun. I'm only viewing the projection of the sun on the paper screen,' says area teacher of his clever — and timely — invention

A simple and clever design is all you need to get the most out of the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8, says one local educator and astronomy enthusiast.

From his home in Barrie’s Allandale neighbourhood, Jim Dewey — a member of the Barrie Astronomy Club, as well as vice-principal and special education resource teacher at Minesing Central Public School — fiddles with two homemade solar eclipse projectors, which were made in preparation for a student eclipse enrichment project at the school, located about 20 minutes north west of the city.

The two Dewey had at his home on Easter weekend were built by students, which he brought home to troubleshoot.

He will be using the student projector setups to take photos and videos of the eclipse on April 8 at the school, to share with the students, as they are off school that particular day, due to the eclipse.

The eclipse project at the Minesing school involves grades three through six students, along with an Elmvale District High School science teacher, and a grade 12 leadership student.

“I made some pinhole projector prototypes for the upcoming solar eclipse,” Dewey says from his back deck at home.

He made a similar projector for his own use during the last solar eclipse in 2017.

All Dewey used is a cardboard Sonotube, a circular form used in construction projects to hold concrete, with both ends of it covered.

The end pointed at the sun has a tiny pinhole in the middle of it, which allows light from the sun to enter the projector.

The other end is covered and made to house a paper screen using plain white paper.

You just need to cut a hole in the side of the Sonotube near the paper screen at the back end to be able to see the image that projects upside down on the makeshift screen.

And that's it, he notes.

“At no time am I looking at the sun,” says Dewey. “I'm only viewing the projection of the sun on the paper screen.”

The longer the tube, the larger the image of the sun appears on the paper screen.

“While I'm using a telescope mount for directional control and stability, they are easy to use hand-held too,” he explains.

Barrie will experience approximately 97 percent solar eclipse coverage on April 8, with the Niagara-on-the-Lake area getting to witness the full totality of the eclipse.

The Canadian Space Agency has a website tutorial on making a similar solar eclipse projector which can be found here.


Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

About the Author: Kevin Lamb

Kevin Lamb picked up a camera in 2000 and by 2005 was freelancing for the Barrie Examiner newspaper until its closure in 2017. He is an award-winning photojournalist, with his work having been seen in many news outlets across Canada and internationally
Read more