More Eclipse Fun!

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Time to get out the Moon Pies and Sun Chips. The Great American Solar Eclipse is here! Just in case you haven’t heard the moon is going to cross in front of the sun on Monday at the perfect time for the United States to view this incredible phenomenon.

We couldn’t be more excited, really. So, if you are late in preparing for Monday’s big show, here is a simple way to make a pinhole viewer. When you don’t have special eclipse glasses, this only requires a few simple household items. Remember staring directly at the sun is damaging to your eyes.

Start with two sheets of heavy paper, scissors, tape, and aluminum foil.

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Then cut a small square in the center of one sheet of paper.

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Tape a small square of aluminum foil over the hole.

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Use a pin, needle, or an unfolded paper clip and poke a hole in the center.

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Then with the sun behind you, place the plain sheet on the ground and hold the paper with the foil above it. Now, you can safely see the reflection of the sun!

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And after all of that work, make a sweet treat for the party. Check out our phases to totality cookies, and read How the Moon Regained Her Shape for fun!

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An Eclipse is Coming

We are one month away from a big event that transverses the continental United States. Can you guess what it is?

A total solar eclipse!

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Totality as seen from Easter Island on July 11, 2010. This is a composite of short, medium, and long exposures, as no single exposure can capture the huge range of brightness exhibited by the solar corona. No filter was used during the exposures, as totality is about as bright as the full Moon and just as safe to look at. At all other times, though, a safe solar filter is required to observe or photograph the Sun. Credit: Dennis di Cicco / Sky & Telescope

What is it?

The moon’s path will cross in front of the sun and totally cover the sun except for its corona or the halo area. While the process will take about 3 hours, totality will only last a mere minute or two at the most.

Who sees it?

Everyone in the U.S. will see at least a partial eclipse, but the lucky ones are in the path of totality which crosses the country from Lincoln Beach, Oregon and ends right here in Charleston, South Carolina (we can’t wait!). Viewing events are happening all across the path. To find out if you are lucky, go to NASA for the path and viewing events in the area.

Why is it important?

Eclipses can happen two and sometimes up to five times a year. Some of these are partial eclipses; many are not visible for a long duration and may only last a few seconds. A total eclipse is a unique event for scientists to study the corona. This is where much of the sun’s action happens and has an effect on the entire solar system.

This is a great reason to learn about our solar system and how it works. Check out NASA’s information and the South Carolina State Library has wonderful resources for the classroom!

If you don’t make it to this one, you will just have to wait until 2023 for the next one!