Friday, August 4, 2017

The Eclipse

So, you may have heard that there's a total solar eclipse happening for much of the continental U.S. this summer?

Here in Southern Illinois we've been hearing about nothing else for two years. We happen to live right by the point of longest duration for totality (when the sky is completely dark) and NASA and Ozzy Osbourne and Neil deGrasse Tyson are all coming here, for various reasons.

It has been hard to be upbeat about the eclipse when we have been hearing about it ad nauseum but Moff has reminded me that it may, in fact, be awe inspiring and that I shouldn't rule that possibility out. And he was so passionate talking about it that it brought tears to my eyes. My mother, my brother, my nephews, and some friends are all coming to my house to watch it. It would be nice if we all got to experience something life changing. And so I am going to open myself up to the possibility, and I hope it is amazing!!!

Given that this will be a great homeschool experience (even if you aren't doing a grade 6 Astronomy MLB), I am making notes on some websites that will be helpful. Here is what I have so far; chime in if you know of others.


A friend recommended this amazing TED talk; I do too!


Moff shared this great map to see the overall path over the U.S. (and it is really fun to put in the latitude and longitude of your home, or your town name and see exactly how the eclipse will pass over you, including the start and end time of the partial and the total).


My mom shared this link, with a countdown clock until totality begins (in Newport OR) and a chance to get your local weather forecast by zip code and double-check when the maximum eclipse will happen for you:


One thing I'd really like to participate in is the "Life Responds: Total Solar Eclipse 2017" citizen science opportunity. We do the Great Backyard Bird Count every year, and this is the same kind of thing. I also like projects for mapping the microbiome, which is a fascinating new field of research.


Two more websites, recommended by our local Science Center:


If you missed my instructions and photos on how to teach the phases of the moon (a lamp, one large foam ball painted to be the Earth, eight smaller foam balls painted to be the moon in various phases arranged around it), the two blog posts are below. You will need paint: we used bright blues and greens for the Earth, and black for the dark side of the Moon, and dull green for the Sun's shadow. We also found it easiest to set the 50/50 white/black balls in a bin of sand to stay upright while drying. The smooth foam balls with the white line around the diameter are easiest to paint, both in texture and in the fact that they are already divided 50/50.

Understanding the relative positions of the sun, moon, and earth for the moon phases is only one short step away from understanding their positions during a solar and/or a lunar eclipse.


This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!

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