On Monday 21st August the contiguous United States will be treated to a solar eclipse. Those in the path of totality will experience a total solar eclipse, during which the blue sky will temporarily turn dark as the moon covers up the disc of the sun. States outside of this path will still see partial coverage of the sun by the moon. In fact, even parts of South America, Africa and Europe will see a partial solar eclipse. See NASA’s interactive map to see the exact path of the total solar eclipse. This is a truly historic event as the last solar eclipse that went from coast to coast across America was nearly 100 years ago, back in 1918!
We’ve prepared some information for you about what a solar eclipse is and how to watch it safely.
A solar eclipse occurs when the disc of the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun and blocks part or all of the sun. In fact, this Ted Ed video by Andy Cohen does an excellent job of teaching children about solar eclipses.
Alternatively you can view the eclipse indirectly through a pinhole camera. They are quick and easy to make. In fact all you need is
- silver foil
- a pin or paperclip
- Simply cut a square hole in your piece of cardboard.
- Then tape foil over the hole.
- Finally, poke a small hole in the foil using a pin or paperclip.
- Your pinhole camera is ready to use! Place a second piece of card on the ground and hold your pinhole camera with the foil facing upwards. Stand with the sun behind you and project the image onto the card below.
For full, pictorial instructions for this activity, click here to view this project on NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory website.