Weather permitting, a partial eclipse of the sun will be visible on Monday afternoon, December 25, 2000, visible from most of the United States and Canada. Here are a few things you will need to know to make your and your child's viewing experience a rewarding and safe one.
First, the sun is no more dangerous during an eclipse than at any other time. But it is no less dangerous, either. Whether there is an eclipse or not, no one should ever look directly at the sun at any time, since serious eye damage, including blindness can result!
Fortunately, there is a perfectly safe method to view the sun: using an eclipse projection viewer. With this type of viewer, you are not looking directly at the sun; rather, you are projecting an image of the sun, which can be looked at for as long as you'd like. To use, simply point the end with the foil and tiny hole toward the sun until an image of the sun becomes visible at the rear inside of the viewer. Feel free to experiment with different lengths of boxes at home to produce larger images of the sun (the longer the box, the larger the sun will appear). This is something with which you can involve the entire family (especially if you are having a large group of people at your house on the afternoon of the eclipse!).
[In addition to the viewer, you can safely view this event with "eclipse glasses" from Rainbow Symphony's link at: http://store.yahoo.com/rainbowsymphony/eclipseshades.html].
Along with observing this event, your child is encouraged to keep a brief journal of the eclipse, noting and recording the changing shape of the sun inside the viewer. Encourage your child to note any changing brightness or temperature differences during the eclipse.
Please look at the different resources (books, online sites, etc.) listed with this lesson plan, and have your child read a story (to the entire family, perhaps) about eclipses and myths in different cultures. You may even want to purchase an appropriate book for the holidays!
Thank you for making one of nature's most beautiful and rare spectacles an event for your child to share with you, your family, and his/her peers across two countries — none of you will ever forget it!