October 19, 2017

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Here Comes the Sun | Digital Resources for the Solar Eclipse

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On August 21st, summer’s long-awaited solar eclipse will travel coast to coast across the United States. While total solar eclipses occur approximately every 18 months, the next one won’t be seen over a swath of the United States again until 2024.

Observers lucky enough to make their way to the “path of totality” will witness a complete eclipse topped off with the sun’s rarely visible (and spectacular) corona. But even a partial shadowing of the sun generates significant excitement. The following easy-to-access resources are sure to enhance the viewing experience.

To determine how much of the eclipse each community can expect to see, download the Totality app by Big Kid Science (Germinate, iOS, Free; Gr 3 Up). With its user friendly, interactive map, this free resource pinpoints locations in relation to the path of totality and details the percentage of viewable eclipse with the exact time and length of occurrence. Additional features include instructions for safe viewing, recommended resources and activities, and video clips that shed light on the science behind solar and other eclipses.

Total Solar Eclipse (Exploratorium, iOS and Android, Free; Gr 3 Up), developed by San Francisco’s premier science museum, presents background information on this and past solar eclipses in polished videos, but the major highlight here is the museum’s plan to livestream the eclipse from Oregon and Wyoming with coverage in English and Spanish.

NASA’s reliably robust Eclipse 2017 is rich in grade K–12 activities, videos and images, and printable guides. “Eclipse 101,” a beginner’s guide to everything eclipse, answers a host of science, history, and safety questions. Be sure to note NASA’s 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Megacast, to be broadcasted live as scientists study and photograph the eclipse via multiple tools, including spacecraft, aircraft, and the International Space Station.

Observer’s Guide to Viewing the Sun, a handy and informative eight-page guide written by Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz, authors of Solar Science: Exploring Sunspots, Seasons, Eclipses, and More (NSTA, 2015), is available from NSTA as a downloadable PDF. Instructions for crafting a pinhole projection box, a safe way to observe the eclipse, are also offered for free.

And finally, check to see if your local library is one of those receiving some of the two million (free) eclipse glasses and resources distributed by The Space Science Institute (funded by the Moore Foundation), The Research Corporation, and Google.


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Alicia Eames About Alicia Eames

A former Brooklyn Public Library children's librarian and NYC public school teacher/librarian, Alicia Eames is a freelance editor and a frequent contributor to the SLJ’s Curriculum Connections “Professional Shelf” column.

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