The total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, is an opportunity not to be missed! Whether you are in the path of totality (a full eclipse) or a location where you will see a partial eclipse, this astronomical phenomena is predicted to not viewable in the U.S. again until 38 years from now.
Young children are natural explorers, learning about their world by experiencing it. Although most astronomical phenomena require special equipment to be observed, the solar eclipse and changing shadows from the Sun are phenomena that children can observe directly and explore through models
Saftey is of the uptmost importance, so remember to take precations before viewing the event. NASA recommends:
- Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright Sun. After glancing at the Sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the Sun.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the Sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device.
- If you are within the path of totality (http://bit.ly/1xuYxSu), remove your solar filter only when the Moon completely covers the Sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright Sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.
An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed Sun is pinhole projection. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other. With your back to the Sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the Sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse.
View NASA’s Safety Tips for the 2017 Solar Eclipse here: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Safety_508.pdf
If you work with children and would like some information on modeling the event or how to help reinforce this event as an educational tool, see NASA’s Full Eclipse Guide for Children here: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/Science %26 Children – Mar2017 – Preparing for the Eclipse.pdf