It has always been said that you never look directly at the sun, but this raises the question "How do I study it?" The sun is very intense and can seriously damage your eyes if you look at it even for a moment. Luckily, astronomers have a few tricks to work around this problem. The most common way is to use a sun visor, which allows you to see the image of the sun on a sheet of paper or cardboard. It's easy and inexpensive to make and use, plus it gives you the ability to study the sun safely.
Part 1 of 3: Build a Pinhole Camera
Step 1. Cut a 1 inch (2.5 cm) square out of a cardboard box
Cut into the short side of a cardboard box. In this way, the light that shines through the hole can travel through the box to the other side. Letting the light travel the length of the box will magnify the image. You should use a box that is no less than 1.8 m (6 ft) long to produce a clear and visible image.
If you don't have a 6-foot-long cardboard box, you can cut smaller pieces of cardboard and tape or glue them together to make a box of the appropriate length. Check that the pieces are completely attached and that no light enters through the places where they are connected
Step 2. Cover the square with aluminum foil
Glue a piece of aluminum foil over the hole in the box. The aluminum foil will prevent excess light from shining through the hole you created. The foil should be tight to make it smooth.
Step 3. Punch a small hole in the aluminum foil
Using a toothpick or needle, poke a hole in the center of the aluminum foil. This will allow only a small amount of light to focus through the hole and project onto the other end of the box. This will provide an image of the sun that is safe to look at.
Part 2 of 3: Projecting the Image
Step 1. Tape the screen down
To improve the quality of the image, you can project it on a white screen. The easiest way to do this is to take blank paper and tape it to the end of the viewer (farthest from the hole). A sheet of paper will suffice.
Step 2. Point the viewfinder at the sun
In order for the viewfinder to capture an image of the sun, you must have it pointed at it. Avoid looking at the sun to aim the viewfinder. Instead, point it in the general direction of the sun, and then move it slowly until you see the sun on the screen.
Step 3. Look at the image of the sun
Once you have the sun on your screen, it is safe to look at it. You do not need to wear safety glasses or any other special equipment. The image is much less intense than actually looking at the sun.
Part 3 of 3: Studying the Sun
Step 1. Take care
You should never look directly at the sun. Even doing it briefly can damage your eyes. You should use a solar viewer to project the image or buy special lenses or telescopes that filter enough light to be sure.
Sunglasses will not protect your eyes from the sun. Only lenses with special filters will be safe
Step 2. Look for patterns
If you want to seriously study the sun, you can look for the presence of patterns. Look for sunspots in the image (they will show up as fainter spots in the image). Watch the sunspots over time and see how they move.
To make accurate comparisons, you must observe the sun from the same place each time
Step 3. Improve your math skills
You can use some basic measurements of your image and viewer to discover interesting facts about the sun. This is because the image you are seeing is a reduced image of the sun. Although it is smaller, it is proportional to the real sun. For example, you can find the diameter of the sun by following these steps:
- Divide the diameter of the image by the distance of the hole (the length of the box).
- Multiply your answer by the distance between the earth and the sun (about 150,000,000 km or 93,000,000 miles).
Step 4. Find other ways to look at the sun
You can look at it without using a special sun visor. Find a tree or other object that provides shade. If there are holes or gaps in the hole, you can study the sunspots that shine through. You can also raise your hands and study the sunlight shining through the spaces between your fingers.
- Place white paper or cardboard under what you are using to see the sunlight and observe the image of the sun on the paper or cardboard.
- Keep in mind that you should never look directly at the sun.
- The image of the sun will be small, but you can adjust the size of this image by moving the screen from side to side. Moving the viewfinder away from the screen will enlarge the image, but will make it more blurry.
- You can study other celestial bodies with a telescope.