You don't need fancy glasses or equipment to enjoy one of the sky's most awesome shows: a solar eclipse. With a few simple supplies, you can make a pinhole camera that lets you watch a solar eclipse safely and easily from anywhere.

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1. Learn about solar eclipses

Watch the video above to learn about how the Moon plays an important role in solar eclipses. Then find out more about solar eclipses from NASA's Space Place.

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2. Start making your pinhole camera

Cut a 1-inch to 2-inch square or rectangular hole in the middle of one of the pieces of card stock.

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3. Tape on the foil

Tape a piece of aluminum foil over the hole.

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4. Poke a hole

Flip over your paper and use your pin, paper clip, or pencil to poke a small hole in the aluminum foil.

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5. Read this important safety note!

Your pinhole camera will let you see an image of the Sun that is safe to look at. But remember to never look directly at the Sun without equipment that's specifically designed for looking at the Sun. Note that sunglasses, binoculars, and telescopes do NOT count as proper protection.

For more information on safe eclipse viewing, visit the NASA Eclipse website.

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6. Try it out

Place your second piece of card stock on the ground and hold the piece with aluminum foil above it (foil facing up). Stand with the Sun behind you and view the projected image on the card stock below! The farther away you hold your camera, the bigger your projected image will be.

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To make your projection a bit more defined, try putting the bottom piece of card stock in a shadowed area while you hold the other piece in the sunlight.

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A starburst pattern using projected images of the Sun

7. Get creative

For extra fun, try poking multiple holes in your foil to make shapes, patterns, and other designs. Each hole you create will turn into its own projection of the Sun, making for some neat effects.

Grab a helper to take photos of your designs for a stellar art project you can enjoy even after the eclipse has ended.

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A paper-box pinhole viewer decorated to look like a spacecraft with paper wings decorated like solar panels sits in the palm of a person's hand.

8. What else can you use as a pinhole camera?

Look for items around the house or classroom with small holes in them – like a colander – to act as your pinhole camera. As before, hold it over the card stock on the ground to see the projected image. What do you notice about the light shining through different objects? What about when you move the objects closer to your projected image or farther away?

For a different kind of pinhole viewer, try printing out and building the SunRISE pinhole viewer (PDF) pictured above and modeled after NASA's SunRISE spacecraft, which are part of a mission designed to study space weather. (Printing on 11x17 cardstock is recommended, but other printer papers work, too.) As you build, learn about the mission's six toaster-size cubesats and how they will study solar activity, creating 3D maps of the Sun's radio emissions and magnetic field lines.

You can also challenge yourself to make your own cereal box eclipse viewer, like so:

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9. How it works

A pinhole camera works because the small hole you made with your pin, paper clip, or pencil acts like a tiny camera lens.

Light from the Sun enters the pinhole (or the holes in an object like a colander), it gets focused, and then it is projected out of the other side of the hole. When the projected light reaches a surface, like the second piece of paper, you can see the image that passed through the pinhole.

Learn more in the video above from artist Bob Miller's Light Walk at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California.