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Lauren B. Stevens
Lauren B. Stevens is a freelance writer and influential blogger. She is passionate about social media and literature.
July 24, 2012Net Nanny for Android 2.0
Aug 08, 2017
In a perfect end to summer, some parts of North America, South America, Africa and Europe, will be able to view the August 21st solar eclipse. Depending on your location, you may be able to view at least a partial eclipse. Total eclipses are rare, with the last one the entire United States was able to view was in 1979. This is an event you won’t want your kids to miss. I’ve gathered 15 tips for kids viewing the solar eclipse, so your family can witness the rare event safely.
Perhaps the most stunning visual representation of planetary orbit, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, eclipsing or covering the Sun from view from Earth anywhere from several minutes to several hours. For a more thorough and kid-friendly explanation of a solar eclipse, check out this short video:
As a child, I remember the chatter amongst friends in the days leading up to a partial eclipse. Playground talk was dominated by talk of going blind by looking directly at the eclipse, and tales of knowing someone who’d gone blind by ignoring the rule were regaled in hushed tones. So, what’s the truth behind it? Is it really dangerous to view a solar eclipse? Yes and no. The odds of going completely blind by viewing a solar eclipse without proper eye protection are slim, but your eyes can be permanently damaged. Much like the way a camera works, staring directly at the Sun damages the retina, leaving an afterimage “burned” into our retina; you’ve likely experienced a similar effect having your picture taken with a flash in the dark. Most people can’t stare directly at the Sun on a normal day, but during a partial eclipse, sunlight is not as intense, tempting people to view the phenomenon without proper eye protection. Unfortunately, eyes can still be damaged, despite the ability to look directly into the Sun without the urge to squint. However, the Sun can be viewed with the naked eye during a total eclipse, but only during the time that the Moon is completely covering the Sun. This essay in Scientific American explains the science behind why and how eye damage occurs when viewing the Sun without eye protection.
While annular eclipses are common, the odds of being in an area to witneass a total solar eclipse makes this a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you have the opportunity to travel to an area that will experience a total solar eclipse, do it!
If you’re not in a position to travel to an area in the United States that will experience a total eclipse, all is not lost. Areas outside the band on NASA’s interactive maps will experience a partial eclipse, which is still a wonder to experience. Here are some ideas for making the most of your eclipse experience:
A solar eclipse is the perfect way for children to take part in science -- they’ll be able to see it, experience the darkness and feel a noticeable temperature drop once the Sun is covered. So much about parenting is being able to spot teachable moments, and this is an exciting moment that everyone can enjoy.
Experiencing a solar eclipse is an amazing opportunity for educating and spending time with our kids. If you’re crafty, you’ll enjoy making your own eclipse viewers, while those of you who are a little more hands-off (like myself), will enjoy exploring some of the eclipse apps with your kids. Please remember to view the eclipse safely, with proper eyewear or a projection device -- it only takes a few moments to irreparably damage your eyes. Most of all -- have fun!