3D Printing to Celebrate the Total Solar Eclipse

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[Image: CBS News]

In case you had somehow missed the reports that have been flooding the news and social media all over the United States, the solar eclipse that’s happening this Monday, August 21st, will be observable within a band across 2,400 miles of the US. The 12 million people who live in the path of totality, and the millions of visitors expected to flood these areas, will have the chance to see a rare total solar eclipse, while everyone else in the country, and other countries, will see a partial eclipse.

People are obviously excited, as it’s been a pretty long time since we last had the chance to see one in America. The last total solar eclipse in the US was in 1979, and the upcoming eclipse will be the first in nearly 100 years to stretch all the way from the west coast to the east coast. However, there are also concerns sweeping the nation about eclipse safety, and possible vision loss if you purchase a fake pair of eclipse glasses.

“The danger is real for permanent vision loss,” Dr. Russell N. Van Gelder, professor of ophthalmology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, told NBC Today.

“The worry in the eclipse is that people are so interested to see one of the great astronomic spectacles that they will suppress their inner drive to look away from the very bright light.”

[Image: NASA]

Regular sunglasses won’t do the trick – NASA is advising people to only purchase glasses that meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard. Also, if you’re buying a pair online, make sure to see if the seller is on the American Astronomical Society’s list of reputable vendors.

However, you can still have fun and celebrate the eclipse while making sure to keep your eyes safe from harm. NASA published a list of fun eclipse activities, including 3D printable pinhole projectors.

The site asks, “Why not celebrate the eclipse by making your own 2D/3D Printed Pinhole Projector in the shape of the USA and/or a US State?”

You can download the STL files here for pinhole projectors in the shape of each American state, or you can print one out in the shape of the entire country if you want to go bigger; you can also download the PDF files to print a 2D state out of paper if you don’t have access to a 3D printer but want to join in on the fun.

You can capture a really unique memory by asking someone to take a picture of your shadow during the eclipse this Monday while you’re holding your 3D printed pinhole projector. The unique image will show your shadow, the shadow of your chosen state, and “a projected image of the partial eclipse marking your location!”

NASA also suggests drilling an additional pinhole in your 3D printed projector that marks your exact location, which will obviously be much simpler if you print out a single state as opposed to the entire US. You can experiment with different sizes of pinholes, and paint or decorate your projector with your state colors and symbols. Additionally, if you’re feeling especially creative, you can secure your pinhole projector and make your own time lapse movie.

NASA is reminding people to share images of their 3D printed pinhole projectors on their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Flickr social media networks. When you post a picture, use #EclipseSelfie and write a one-two sentence description of your image.

If you’re looking for a less patriotic route, Thingiverse user tleathrum posted his own two-piece Pinhole Solar Eclipse Viewer.

This piece does requires supports, as the “overhang of the glue tabs won’t print correctly” without them. There is also a bit of assembly required post-print, including gluing the pieces together and drilling the hole in the middle.

Glowing Solar Eclipse Pendant

While these 3D printable eclipse pinhole projectors are creative and fun, remember to never look directly at the sun through them, or through telescopes or binoculars either. Check out NASA’s Eclipse Viewing Safety and Related Projection Methods to be sure your eyes will stay safe during the eclipse.

If you want to be 100% sure of not damaging your eyes but still want to celebrate this amazing phenomenon, you could always just watch the eclipse on TV and 3D print a cool piece of eclipse jewelry, like this Glowing Solar Eclipse Pendant by VickyTGAW that shows the different phases of the sun (use glow-in-the-dark filament for a really cool look) or the Total Eclipse pendant by mathgrrl. Discuss in the Solar Eclipse forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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