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Observing the Sun Safely

When studying the sun, you must be careful of your eyes! Looking at the sun directly, or through binoculars, can cause very severe damage to your eyes Ö even blindness. This project gives you a safe alternative. Itís a great activity to include with a study on astronomy, space, our solar system, even gardening.


Pair of binoculars*
An open window
A mirror
A blank wall, movie screen, or white sheet


1. Place a pair of binoculars in an open window in the direct path of the sunís rays.
2. Stand a mirror in front of one of the binocularís eye pieces.
3. Position the mirror so that it throws an image of the sun onto another wall in the room. To get the absolute best picture, try and use a white wall, a movie screen or a white bed sheet .
4. By adjusting the mirror you can make the image sharper. Darkening the room may also help with this.
5. As the earth rotates, you will need to re-align the mirror and/or binoculars to keep up.

*Note: If the binoculars are good ones, you may even be able to see sunspots. Sunspots are cooler areas on the sunís surface. Sunspots do not stay in the same place on the sunís surface and can come and go.

If you work quickly, and focus the image of the sun on white paper, you can draw its outline. However, wait too long and the image will shift. This is due to the fact that the earth rotates Ö on its own axis as well as around the sun. Summer will probably give you a better picture that winter, because you are closer to the sun during the summer.


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