The total solar eclipse of 2017 is less than two weeks away! Whether you’re planning to travel into the path of totality to watch day turn into night, or just head outside to check it out, it will be a great opportunity to make some memories. Here are some ideas to help you and the kids get ready for the big day.
1. Find out what time the moon will be passing between you and the sun. Using NASA’s interactive eclipse map, you can click on the name of any town to see when the eclipse will start, when the maximum coverage will occur, and how much of the sun will be covered (obscuration). There’s even a key under the map for converting the universal time to standard times.
2. Make a pinhole viewer. Remind your kids that looking directly at the sun is very dangerous, but that it’s okay to stand with the sun behind them and watch the eclipse indirectly using a pinhole viewer. They'll have fun making one themselves, using a shoe box, some foil, and a pin!
3. Order ISO-approved solar glasses. NASA has a fantastic guide to solar eclipse eye-safety and a list of vendors who sell solar glasses that block out enough of the Sun’s powerful rays to allow you to safely view the eclipse directly.
4. Create sun prints. Human eyes can’t see ultraviolet light, but using construction paper, kids can create sun prints to see for themselves how the sun’s powerful UV rays break down dyes and bleach paper.
5. Pop a balloon using the sun’s energy. With the sun behind you and a magnifying glass in hand, it’s fun to pop an inflated balloon by focusing the sun’s hot energy on a tiny spot! Tell your kids, during a total eclipse, that the sun’s rays are completely blocked out by the moon and the temperature actually drops a little bit in the moon’s shadow.
6. Learn more about the sun, space, and the universe. How does our sun fit into the universe? Here are some websites, books, videos, and apps that will inspire your young scientists to learn more about our galaxy.
7. Download an Eclipse app. There are a number of free apps, including the Exploratorium’s free Total Solar Eclipse app and one from Smithsonian that puts interesting and useful information at your fingertips. Don't miss their link to NASA’s total Eclipse website, where you can find lots of cool eclipse facts and watch the eclipse live if you find yourself under cloudy skies on August 21st.
The next total eclipse won’t cross the continental United States until 2024, so don’t miss this chance to experience this rare phenomenon with your kids. Whether you’re lucky enough to see the sun’s corona, or you’re in a spot where the moon takes a big bite out of the sun, it promises to be an amazing show.
Featured Photo Credit: © Quarry Books