2D/3D Printable Pinhole Projectors


The August 21, 2017 eclipse will be observable across America. While those in the path of totality will see a TOTAL solar eclipse, everyone will be treated to a PARTIAL eclipse! Where will you be? 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?

3d printed USA map image
3d printed state map image

Download and create your own 3D Printed Pinhole Projector in the shape of the USA and/or a US State.

Paper cut out USA map
paper cut out state map

If you don’t have access to a 3D printer, download these pdf files to create your state or USA pinhole projector out of paper or card stock!

Capture the Moment: Ask a friend to take a picture of your shadow while holding your state’s pinhole projector. The resulting image will be a once in a lifetime picture of your shadow, the shadow of your selected state and a projected image of the partial eclipse marking your location!

Share the Moment: Don’t forget to share your best images with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and/or on our Solar Eclipse Flickr Group. Use #EclipseSelfie. Leave a 1-2 sentence description of your image/idea.

3d printed USA map pinhoal projecting


  • Take a picture of your shadow holding your state. Drill an additional pinhole to mark your location.
  • Print and glue a ‘paper map’ over your selected 3D printed state.
  • Use your 2D/3D printed state as a template to trace and cutout multiple cardboard versions.
  • Decorate your projector (cultural images/colors, state symbols, sports, etc.)
  • Place your 2D/3D projector on a lanyard or necklace for quick access.
  • Project onto a t-shirt and take a picture.
  • Secure your projector and make a timelapse movie.
  • Experiment with different pinhole sizes and shapes.
  • Learn how to 3D print a multicolored pinhole projector in the shape of the United States or your state!

Alternative Viewing Methods:

  • Use Your Hands: Create pinhole projections with your fingers. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse.
  • Creating pinhole projections with your fingers

  • Find a Tree: Trees make great pinhole projectors. Layers of leaves and branches tend to create thousands of little pinholes allowing sunlight to pass through to the ground. On a sunny day you’ll notice thousands of circles of light projected onto the ground beneath the trees around you. During the partial phases of an eclipse, those projected circles of light actually turn into thousands of projected images of the eclipse. Keep your camera ready! To learn more about why this happens, visit Solar Viewing Projector.
  • Create pinhole projections using tree

3D Printed Pinhole Projection Cards: During the 2016 total solar eclipse in Micronesia, we tested a variety of pinhole sizes using 3D printed cards . We found that a 5 mm pinhole held 3-4 feet above the ground provided the strongest and clearest pinhole projection of a partial eclipse.

Be creative but be safe! NEVER look directly at the sun or through optical devices such as pinhole projectors, binoculars or telescopes!

Eclipse Viewing Safety and Related Projection Methods
National Aeronautics and Space Administration