The Amazing Camera Obscura!

Have you ever come across a computer from 10 years ago and find yourself wondering how anyone was impressed by such outdated technology? Technology has a short life in our day. But the exception to this is the camera obscura, a photographic technology that is over 1,000 years old and still manages to captivate our sense of wonder today.

For centuries, artists and scientists alike tried to figure out how to capture an image of the natural world. This ongoing pursuit eventually led to the development of photography in 1839. But before this, one fascinating invention along the way was the camera obscura, which literally means “dark chamber” in Latin. The camera obscura is a device that takes advantage of the natural laws of light to project an image from the outside into a darkened space through a small pinhole on one of the chamber’s walls.

We at MOPA are thrilled to have a walk-in version of a camera obscura, which we construct outside the museum once a year in celebration of the Balboa Park's Science Family Day.

Come to MOPA on March 17 and you’ll see for yourself the amazing abilities of the camera obscura to project a live image of Balboa Park using nothing but a darkened space and a small opening of light. It is nothing short of unbelievable!