For this Friday’s Field Trip, we headed out to the Planetarium to learn about the August 21 solar eclipse. The planetarium is currently showing the film, “Totally Eclipsed” which does an amazing at job in explaining what you can expect with the upcoming eclipse, as well as safety information.
The film explained exactly what a solar eclipse is and what exactly they can expect to see. It also explained to them that there is a difference between being in the path of totality and even seeing say 98%. Now the kiddos are pretty excited since our little town in Western North Carolina is situated on the path of totality.
The duration of the solar eclipse in our area is expected to be 2 minutes and 20 seconds of totality which is when the Moon will completely cover the soon. My boys are very excited to be able to experience the day turning to night in the middle of the afternoon.
About the eclipse
On August 21, 2017, a solar eclipse will be visible across all of North America. The entire continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting 2 to 3 hours. Halfway through the event, anyone within a roughly 70 mile wide path (path of totality) from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a brief total eclipse. In our recent field trip, we learned that in the area we live in, we’ll experience a total eclipse for a little over 2 minutes.
A total eclipse is when then moon completely blocks the sun, and during that time bright stars and plants will also become visible. We all know that looking directly at the sun is unsafe, except during the short total phase of a solar eclipse which is called the ‘totality”. This is the only time when it’s safe to look directly at the eclipse because the moon is entirely blocking the sun. However, keep in mind that this will only happen within the narrow path of totality.
So how can you safely view the eclipse?
The only safe way to directly at the partially eclipsed sun is through special solar filters such as “eclipse glasses” or even hand-held viewers. We recently order THESE for our family for the eclipse. To find out more about the type of glasses or hand-held devices you may need, you can visit HERE. Currently there are only 4 manufacturers that have certified their eclipse glasses. American Paper Optics is one of the companies that have been certified. That’s the brad of our eclipse viewing glasses. Some planetariums are selling eclipse glasses as well, so if you have a planetarium near you, it might be worth checking to see.
What About Telescopes?
If you do plan on using a telescope to view the solar eclipse, keep in mind that you will need to attach a solar filter at the large end of the scope, and never use small solar filters that simply attach to the eyepiece.
If you’re not able to get eclipse viewing glasses, or a filter for your telescope, there are other ways in which you can view the eclipse. Even though we have purchased the glasses, we have talked about letting all the kids in our homeschool group make a Solar Eclipse viewing box.
Are there other ways to view the eclipse?
There are additional ways in which you can view the eclipse. You can use a cereal box as a viewing method, index cards and more. To see more information regarding the upcoming solar eclipse, you can visit HERE.