On Monday, August 21, 2017, we will be lucky enough to experience a total eclipse of the sun. Because it’s the first that can be seen all across the contiguous United States since June 18, 1918, it’s being called the Great American Total Solar Eclipse.
It’s such a big deal that NASA is predicting it may be one of the worst traffic days in our nation’s history! You don’t want the kids to miss such an exciting event.
Even though there is nothing to fear, a total eclipse of the sun can make adults and kids alike feel a little uneasy.
The best way to get kids excited and looking forward to seeing it is to prepare them for the event. Here are 5 facts about the solar eclipse you can use to get them interested in viewing it, and in learning more about it.
5 Ways to Get Your Kids Interested in the Solar Eclipse
- The solar eclipse is a big shadow. The moon will pass between the sun and Earth, and when it does it will block the sun from our view as it casts a big shadow.
Have kids experiment with a flashlight acting as the sun and a small plate playing the part of the moon. They’ll see how the light changes on a toy when they move the plate in front of the flashlight.
That will help them better understand what’s happening during the eclipse.
- The sky will look like it has a hole in it. Once the moon is between our Earth and the sun, the moon will appear as a dark circle that will look very much like a hole.
Surrounding the sun is an atmosphere made up of gases. At the very outermost edge of its atmosphere is the corona. The corona is not covered by the moon in the eclipse.
Kids will see the corona dancing around the dark circle in the sky like happy, white streamers.
- The temperature will drop. The air will suddenly cool down. In fact, the temperature may drop by about 10 degrees.
- Animals may behave in an odd way during an eclipse. The darkness can be confusing for animals so they may react as though it’s evening. Different animals behave in different ways.
Birds will go silent, but frogs will start to make noise. Many types of spiders will deconstruct their webs. Cattle and horses may head toward the barn. Ants return to their nests, while bats and owls may think it’s time to come out.
In 1984, it was reported that chimps were staring and even pointing at the solar eclipse!
It’s OK if your pets are outside during the event. If they are nervous animals it may be kinder to keep them inside.
Even after the solar eclipse has ended, animals may need the rest of the day to adjust.
- It will be over very quickly. The moon will inch its way over the sun and that takes some time. Kids can watch it happening so long as they are wearing the proper eye protection.
But the duration of totality – meaning the time the sun is completely covered – is only 2 minutes 41 seconds at the most. It depends on where you are in the US. Plan well in advance so that you don’t miss it.
The next total solar eclipse like this one, viewable all across the United States, won’t happen until April 8, 2024. Wouldn’t it be fun to use August 21st as a day to create a time capsule with your kids? Of course, you wouldn’t be allowed to open it until you all come together again in 2024 to view the next eclipse!
What about you? Are you planning to view this special event with your kids? Will you be watching at a viewing party, or together in your backyard? Comment and tell me what you have planned.