Introduction: Functional Eclipse Keepsake
My family planned a reunion in Idaho to witness the August 27, 2017 total solar eclipse.
I wanted to celebrate the occasion by creating a keepsake of sorts. I thought a Christmas Tree ornament would be fitting since we often collect ornaments from the destinations we visit on vacation.
But since this was a total eclipse we were remembering I wanted to 'up the ante'. I thought it would be unusual and memorable to make the ornament a functional eclipse viewing device!
I would make the ornament a eclipse pinhole projector!
Step 1: Design the Eclipse Ornament
I decided to 3D print the eclipse ornaments because it would allow me to create permanent high contract lettering -- I wanted my keepsake to last! I also decided to make the ornament a thin disk to print quickly since I had to print quite a few of them (for all the family members) and I did not want to take a month to print all of them.
I used Autodesk Fusion 360 to design a thin disk that was really two disks printed on top of each other. The bottom disk would be black, creating the background that would create the lettering and the top disk would be the contrasting white 'stencil', if you will, that allowed the black lettering to show through.
I added a graphical representation of the progression of the eclipse across the center of the ornament to hit home that this was a total eclipse were were viewing.
The center image of the eclipse progression is actually a hole all the way through the ornament, representing the total eclipse, and also functioning as the pinhole for my eclipse pinhole projector.
I also took care to make the various stages of the eclipse progression thin so that you can see the crescent of the eclipse in gray.
I have attached the Fusion 360 file so you can modify it as you like, as well as a copy of the .stl file for your examination. You do realize that you will need to modify the files... unless your family name is "Clarke" - Just thought I would remind you before you started printing. ;-)
Step 2: 3D Printing the Eclipse Ornament
The whole lettering and phases of the eclipse thing only works if you print in two colors. So I started the print in black PLA and then after the 'step' showing the second disk was evident I paused the printer and switched to white PLA to finish the print. It turned out better than I expected with the letters very readable and the progression of the eclipse just super!
Step 3: Get Ready for April 8, 2024
The eclipse keepsake ornament turned out fabulous. My family members were delighted to receive one and everyone used it to view the eclipse. Now they have a keepsake that actually had the light from the eclipse pass through it. Something truly unique.
So start planning your family gathering for April 8, 2024, the date of the next North American total solar eclipse. I have to say there is nothing quite as spellbinding as viewing a total solar eclipse. Many have just settled for a partial eclipse (the area inside the blue lines on the map is the only area where the eclipse is a total eclipse) but don't settle! If you can in any way make it into the path of totality it will so be worth it and you will congratulate yourself for a wise decision the rest of your life!
Now start planning and see you in the shadow in 2024!
Map credit - NASA.