How to watch the solar eclipse safely: make a pinhole projector

Dos and don’ts during the solar eclipse

Safety is paramount when trying to observe the sun during Friday morning’s eclipse. It is extremely dangerous to look at the sun directly and people should not take risks.

Do not attempt to use sunglasses, even very heavy ones, or other makeshift methods such as candle-blackened glass. People are also advised not to use home telescopes. David Moore, of Astronomy Ireland of Astronomy Ireland said that “if you look into a telescope pointed towards the sun you could be blinded before you could blink”.

One of the safest ways to view the solar eclipse is using a simple, homemade pinhole projector

1 Take two pieces of cardboard each about the size of a plate. Two sheets of paper will work but will be harder to hold flat.


2 Use a pin or thumbtack to make a small hole in one piece of the cardboard.

3 Turn your back to the sun and hold up the cardboard, allowing the light coming through the hole to fall on the second piece of cardboard held at arms length.

This will project a clear image of the solar disc as it disappears behind the orbiting moon.

Parents with children should prepare a pinhole projector and avoid taking any risks using any other viewing method

People should also avoid trying to take “selfies” during the eclipse, said Patricia Quinlan, an eye doctor and spokeswoman for the Irish College of Ophthalmologists. A person might be put at risk lining up a selfie on their phones, she said.

Specialised eclipse glasses will be available at some of the public events taking place for Friday’s event.

The eclipse will last about two hours over Ireland, starting just after 8.15am. The eclipse will be at its maximum between about 9.15 and 9.30. However, viewing opportunities may be less than ideal: cloudy and misty conditions, with scattered patches of drizzle, are expected for early morning.

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom

Dick Ahlstrom, a contributor to The Irish Times, is the newspaper's former Science Editor.

Brian Kilmartin

Brian Kilmartin

Brian Kilmartin is Managing Editor, Features at The Irish Times