Sonoma County Office of Education

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Eclipse Viewing Advice for Families and Educators

08/14/2017 -

Eclipse - RingOn Monday, August 21, America will experience a rare solar eclipse. While some parts of the country will experience a total solar eclipse, Sonoma County residents will experience a partial eclipse where roughly 80 percent of the sun is obscured.

In our area, the moon will begin its path across the sun around 9:00am. The eclipse will be at its maximum at 10:15 am, ending around 11:36am.

Eclipses—even partial eclipses—can be awe-inspiring and present an excellent opportunity for teachers to engage their students in science. Following are educational resources and ideas for educators.

Important Safety Notice

The only safe way to look at a partial solar eclipse is through special glasses or handheld solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. Staring at even a sliver of the sun without the right protection can cause permanent eye damage.

If you plan to view the eclipse at school, please be sure to provide designated solar eclipse glasses. It is also important to make sure the viewing glasses are made by an approved company. See an American Astronomical Society-approved list of viewing glasses here.

According to NASA, an alternate method for safe viewing is pinhole projection. One way to do this is to cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse— you'll see the ground dappled with crescent suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.

For additional safety information, please view this NASA web page.

General Information about the Eclipse

American Astronomical Society: Solar Eclipse Across America
Nasa: Eclipse 2017
Sonoma County Library information and free viewing glasses while they last

Educational Links/Materials

How the Blind Can Watch the Solar Eclipse - Science Friday
NASA resources for K-12 educators
EdSource article: How teachers are shedding light on science
CalAcademy—opportunity to engage students in citizen science while viewing the eclipse PBS Learning Media—Solar Eclipses
Teacher Toolkit (Google doc created by Rachel Connolly, Director of STEM Education, WGBH and PBS LearningMedia)
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory—How to Make a Pinhole Camera

Information for this article adapted from NASA, the American Astronomical Society, and Alameda Unified School District.