By now you have heard that on Tuesday, June 5th 2012 there is an amazing event taking place in the sky called the Transit of Venus. My son has become very interested in the planets recently and is super excited to see Venus crossing between the Earth and the Sun. Since I was a little girl I have always loved the stars and the planets, so I love that he has become interested in this subject and that we can learn about the Transit of Venus together.
To read more about the Transit of Venus you can go here (make sure to keep scrolling past the first set of ads to see the viewing time table). This link also has a short video about making a solar eclipse viewer. You can also go here for a quick and easy diagram that explains how to easily make your own viewer. I recommend you look at this link before reading my instructions, it will make it super easy to follow along.
I also want to tell you that besides the pinhole viewer, I made a different sort of viewer with a large paper box lid. My thinking is that it might be hard for some of my littles to look into that hole and understand what we are looking at. I am hoping that by using this lid and projecting the image of the Sun onto a piece of paper, I can use a pencil to point out the black spot (Venus) on the Sun of our projected image. I did test both viewers out today during the time frame that transit will be visible in our area and I get a clear image of the Sun, so hopefully it will all work for us tomorrow. I have said a few prayers for clear skies!
How To | Pinhole Viewer
- Box (a shoebox will work too)
- White Paper
- Paper Punch (Small Circle) or Pin
- Okay, to start I have to say please don’t look at the sun. I am sure you know this, but please reiterate it with your kids too.
- Check out this link for a picture of how I made my viewer. All you need to do is follow that picture. I made a few changes to mine that I will talk about below.
- Instead of poking a hole in the tinfoil with a pin, I used a circular paper punch. When I first did it with the pin the image projected on the other side of the box was super small and I am sure it would be very difficult to see the tiny shadow of Venus as it crosses in front of the Sun. The hole that I now punched is about 5/8″ wide. You can see from the photo below how big the image of the sun will be tomorrow around the time of the Transit of Venus where I live.
- I taped my tinfoil piece on using painters tape so that I can remove the tinfoil and make a new piece with a different sized hole if I need to. I didn’t want to have to deconstruct the whole box for this to happen. I am hoping to save the box for the next solar eclipse and maybe I will need a smaller hole.
- I also thought from all the instructions I viewed on the internet that you would put your eye right up to the hole and peer in at the projected image of the Sun. Okay, that might make me sound stupid, because it only took one look with my eye right up to the hole in the box with the super bright pinpoint image on that white paper to know that wasn’t a smart idea. So keep your face a short distance from the hole on the side of the box and position the project image so you can view it without sticking your eye right up to the hole. You can see the projected Sun image in my picture below and I didn’t put the camera very close to the hole.
- Use two layers of Duct Tape and tape over any cracks in your box to make it completely dark inside.
- If you want to make the paper box top lid viewer read below.
How To | Box Top Lid Pinhole Viewer
- Use a large piece of cardboard, I used a the lid to a box of paper. Cut a 5/8″ hole in the center of the lid using a craft knife. Cut the hole as perfectly circular as you can. That determines what shape your projected Sun image will be. I like mine to be as round as possible 😉
- Yup, you are pretty much done now. Look at my picture above for how I projected the image of the Sun onto a white piece of paper. Should be pretty easy for a small child to look at an Eclipse or the Transit of Venus with you.
If you are looking for a recently revised book with the latest information about the planets, I recently ordered this great book from Amazon. This is the most current book I could find. You might want to check it out if you have a budding astronomer like me! The book is called 13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System by David Aguilar.