How to Build a Solstice Camera

This is part of our “SPACE2GO” home science experiments. After securing the materials, anyone can build a camera that reveals the arc of our Star, the Sun in the sky.

Today, I’m going to walk everyone through a fun project to capture the movement of our Star (The Sun) in our sky! We know the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West, but as for understanding it’s path? I think that’s a bit of a mystery for most of us. This project will shed some light on the exact path our Sun takes through the sky in your yard (or wherever you decide to put your camera).

You’ll need a few supplies:

1) Photographic paper- Some of us older folks who took photography in high school or college will remember the development process. This build uses the same type of photographic paper to create our image. You can purchase enough of the paper from Amazon or your local art supply store. Here’s the type of paper I use: Ilford Multigrade Art 300, Variable Contrast, Black and White Matte Surfaced Fiber Based Photo Paper on a Textured Fine Art Base, 5×7″. While glossy will work, the matte finish (sometimes hard to find) will work best! I’ll post the link at the bottom of the article.
2) 16oz Soda Can – Ensure it’s 16oz, not 12 oz as the 5×7 paper will not fit in a 12oz can.
3) Can-Opener
4) Duct Tape
5) Card Stock paper (old magazine)
6) Scissors
7) Safety Pin or Thumb Tac
8) Pen or Pencil

The Build:

  1. Using the can opener, cut the top of the can off the Soda Can.
  2. Use the Card Stock to create a Cap for your can. You can be creative here, or watch my video posted at the top to see how I did it.
  3. Use the Safety Pin to put a tiny shutter hole in the can (now a camera) about 1/3 of the way down the can.
  4. Put a tiny piece of duct tape over the shutter (pinhole) of the camera.
  5. Using a dark space, carefully take the paper/film and insert the photo-side towards the shutter (pinhole).
  6. Ensure the paper goes in folded with the long edge of the film parallel to the bottom of the can. Position the paper/film so the pinhole is not covered by the paper/film.
  7. Put the lid on the camera, and tape it securely to ensure water doesn’t get inside.
  8. Mount the camera on a SOLID object facing due south.
  10. Re-open and refill the camera on the next Solstice!

*Photo paper from amazon:×7&qid=1592681091&s=office-products&sr=1-18