Hey you, sitting there with a cup of coffee. What are you doing August 21 of this year?
I know what I’ll be doing. My family and I will be watching the solar eclipse. Wanna join us? No no, you don’t need to travel, you’re going to be able to see it no matter where you are. Well, sort of.
If you’re unable to be in the path of the eclipse, you can watch it streaming live on NASA’s website.
So what exactly IS a total solar eclipse? Oh, I’m so glad you asked.
A total solar eclipse happens when the new moon comes between the Sun and the Earth and creates a shadow from the Sun.When the darkest part of the eclipse is in effect, it will be as dark as midnight in the areas affected. All the birds will stop chirping, and the air will get cooler, and suddenly, it’s dark. Thankfully this only last for a few minutes, and then everything is back to normal. A solar eclipse can only happen when there is a new moon. (a lunar eclipse only occurs during a full moon)
There are a few things you’re going to want to make sure you do, before August 21, 2017.
1) Buy solar eclipse viewing glasses. I cannot stress this enough. It’s never okay to look at the sun without eye protection. Sunglasses aren’t going to cut it because they do not block the damaging UV rays. If you look at the sun without protection, you can damage your eyes, and possibly go blind. Don’t risk it. Solar Eclipse glasses are very inexpensive. You can buy a multi-pack here, and protect your whole family.
2) Go ahead and get the day off work. If you’re planning on watching the eclipse, you may want to make a long weekend event of it. Take the kids camping, or make plans to hang out at a state park for the day, just make sure you’re able to see the eclipse from where your location.
3) Make reservations for your campsite or hotel, NOW. This is a pretty big event, and places are going to get booked up months ahead of time. Not just from locals, but folks will be coming in from all over the world to witness this spectacular celestial event!
4) Forget pictures, unless you’re really prepared. Of course, you can get pictures of everyone’s excitement and what you’re doing, but as for the eclipse, just enjoy it. Totality will only last for less than a couple minutes, depending on where you are in its path, you don’t want to miss it by looking into a viewfinder.
The most important thing you’ll want to do is enjoy the memories that you’re making! A total eclipse is easily a once in a lifetime event, make the most of it.
5) On the day of, go ahead and set up your video camera an hour or so ahead of time so you’ll be ready to record. That way you’ll be able to enjoy the eclipse, instead of fiddling with settings on a camera. You’re probably going to need a filter; you can order that here.
6) Don’t forget your sunscreen! You may feel you’re going to be ok, but the sun is highest in the sky, we can quickly burn. Cover or use a sunscreen, no amount of fun is worth the pain of a sunburn.
7) Take lawn chairs! You’re going to want to sit down eventually, may as well bring your chairs.
8) Pack a picnic, especially if you have children. Hungry kids = grumpy kids, and we know ain’t nobody got time for that!
9) Invite your favorite people over and have a Solar Eclipse party. With this easily being a once in a lifetime event, it’s going to be rank pretty high on the list of amazing moments shared with friends/family. Make sure you’re with those you enjoy.
This is going to be the party of the century!
The sunset will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen, in the moments leading up to the total solar eclipse. This is when that camera will come in handy!
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to turn this life event into a learning event. There are many great ideas for making the most out of learning.
10) Make a pinhole projector. One of the easiest ways to safely watch a solar eclipse is to use 2 sheets of cardboard and make your own simple pinhole projector.
DIY: Simple PinholeProjector
The easiest way to project the Sun is a projector that you can make using only 2 pieces of cardboard/poster board or paper.
You’re Going To Need:
*Two pieces of heavy cardstock or cardboard. (Get heavy poster board from the Dollar Tree)
*Or two pieces of white paper. (printer paper is fine)
* Thumbtack or pin/needle
You’re Going To Do:
*To make a simple version pinhole projector, take a sheet of paper and make a small hole in the middle of it using a pin or a thumbtack. Make sure that the hole is round and smooth.
**Did I mention to PLAN AHEAD?
On April 22, the sun will be in about the same position as it will be on Augst 21. You may want to see the sun from your viewing location on that date, to know if you need to make any changes. In South Carolina, the magic starts happening around 2:30, so keep that in mind.
Most of all, make memories and ENJOY the magic of our Solar System.