As most of you are aware from a previous post, Mr.Caldwell and I are traveling to our chosen spot in the high desert of Madras, Oregon to experience “totality” during the Great American Eclipse. We are excitedly anticipating the opportunity to experience all the sights, sounds and feels as our sun is fully blocked by the moon for about 2 minutes. Link to… Totality Awesome!
But, on Monday, August 21, 2017, if you are properly prepared, you can “get eclipsed” too! That is because our sun will be at least partially eclipsed by the moon from the viewpoint of every state in the U.S. This rare opportunity has not occurred since 1918!!
The percentage that the sun will be partially covered varies depending on your proximity to the pathway of eclipse totality. For example, if you live in San Francisco 76% of the sun will be covered by the moon’s shadow, 87% in Chicago and 67% here at home in the Houston metropolitan area.
Timing matters! You will need to do some research based on your location on August 21st so you know when to step outside, put on your eclipse safety glasses and stare in awe. This fantastic link from Time and Date allows you to type in your city name to search exact times and sun coverage at your location Link To Time and Date Searchable Eclipse Map
In Houston, the eclipse starts at 11:45am CT with maximum coverage (67%) at 1:16pm and the eclipse ending at 2:45pm. When you check out the Time and Date weblink, run the animation to see how the partial eclipse will actually appear for its duration….weather permitting of course! Here is a link to a Houston KPRC Channel 2 eclipse news report…Click2 Houston ~ August 21 Eclipse Many spots in Houston are offering eclipse viewing “parties”. Even our local Woodlands library on Lake Robbins has an event scheduled that day!
SAFETY FIRST! Looking at the sun anytime is dangerous because its harmful UV rays can permanently damage our eyes. Instinctively (it hurts!), we don’t stare directly at the sun when we are out enjoying a beautiful sunny day. However, during a partial eclipse, we will want to stare at the sun to observe the movement of the moon across it. This is NOT SAFE unless you are wearing protective ISO 12312-2 rated eclipse glasses. Prepare!! You should purchase these NOW as they are selling out quickly from online retailers. Purchase only from NASA approved suppliers: American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only), Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17 to insure you have the quality necessary to fully protect your eyes. Follow the directions on the glasses for the safe amount of time you can view the sun directly. Amazon was carrying the American Paper Optics brand that I’m trying out. As of today they still have supplies. As soon as you get your glasses, go outside and look at the sun with them. It is pretty cool to just see what the sun normally looks like and then you will have that knowledge for comparison to the eclipse. If clouds are passing by they will cast a shadow on the sun too.
Since most of you will be at school during peak eclipse viewing time you should plan ahead by alerting the teacher for the class you will be in during the eclipse. It could be great fun to help your teacher with a lesson that includes taking the class outside for a mini field trip! Of course, if you are lucky enough to be in a science class at the time of the eclipse, getting your class outside to experience the wonder of such a rare natural phenomenon will likely only require a simple suggestion to your instructor. But, for other subject areas you made need to offer up some ideas for making your “field trip” an educational experience. Perhaps a language arts teacher could have you reflect in your writing journal on how seeing your sun’s light partially blocked makes you feel? You could write a poem? An art teacher could have you create a visual representation of your experience using water colors? Perhaps with a social studies or history class you could research the impact of total eclipses on ancient civilizations? Did you know that in 585 B.C. a war in what is today central Turkey came to an abrupt end when a total solar eclipse was seen as a sign for peace? I’m sure there are more interesting stories that could be researched by inquiring minds! Maybe you can have a few pairs of eclipse glasses that your class can share or get even more energized and make a few cool pinhole viewers for indirect observations of the sun by you and your classmates. They are cheap and easy to make.
You don’t have to be in the moon’s narrow umbra shadow to be a part of the Great American Eclipse on August 21st, but you do need to plan and be prepared if you hope to “Get Mooned”. Stay curious and Never Stop Questioning!!