Total Solar Eclipse

Hello colleagues, The total solar eclipse, the first in 99 years in the US is right around the corner!  I'm certain that many of you are already planning to focus on the August 21 total solar eclipse in your classrooms. I'm excited about digging into this topic in my class. The best site to locate resources is NASA's Total Solar Eclipse site. There you will find links to some wonderful instructional materials.

In my class, we will discuss the safety aspects, to be sure everyone understand the need to use special solar eclipse glasses when viewing the eclipse. There are many downloadables available at the NASA site, including eclipse state maps, eclipse fact sheets in English and Spanish, and a graphics only safety flyer. The safety glasses are available for free from many local libraries. I ordered enough safety glasses for both of the classes I'm teaching this summer.

If you are lucky enough to be in the "Path of Totality," you will see the moon entirely cover the sun, which is predicted to be amazing. However, many of us will still experience a pretty exciting event. At the Time and Date website, you can enter your location and receive details about what the eclipse will look like for your area.

I am looking forward to this rare event and the opportunity to focus on science literacy in my classroom.

Tell us about your plans.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP


Susan, thank you for these resources. I'll be sharing them with Ohio's adult education teachers over our e-list.

Hello friends, Here is a link to ten new videos on the solar eclipse. You may find one or more of these videos useful to show in your classroom.

In case anyone's interested, here's a transcript for the Wall Street Journal video -- about 3 minutes. I'll be using this video in my class on Monday.

The Great American Eclipse

1. This August, will experience what has been dubbed by some as the “Great American Eclipse,” the first total solar eclipse seen from the U.S. coast to coast in nearly a century.

2. While a partial eclipse will be visible to most U.S. states, skywatchers are expected to flock here-- the path of totality--  the only area where a total eclipse can be seen.

3. Fred Espenak, Retired NASA Astrophysicist: A total eclipse is something that everybody should put on their bucket list because it’s one of the most remarkable things in all of nature.

4. A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, casting areas of the Earth’s surface in darkness.

5. It shouldn’t be confused with the more common lunar eclipse where the Earth passes between the moon and the sun.

6. A total eclipse happens in 5 phases.

7. Phase 1: The first phase begins as the moon makes first contact with the sun.

8. Phase 2: The second phase occurs moments before the moon totally encompasses the sun. Sunlight escapes past the moon’s peaks and valleys causing the diamond ring effect and Bailey’s beads.

9. Fred Espenak, Retired NASA Astrophysicist: That dazzling diamond shrinks down and gets fainter and fainter and fainter, and finally that remaining little crescent breaks up into a string of bright beads.

10. Phase 3: The third phase –totality--  is the only time that the sun’s outer most atmosphere, the corona, can be viewed.

11. Phase 4: The fourth phase happens as totality ends and the moon begins moving away from the sun’s path when viewers can again observe the diamond ring effect and Bailey’s beads.

12. Phase 5: The fifth phase occurs as the eclipse ends.

13. A total solar eclipse happens every year or two in any given area across the globe. On average though, it only passes one location in the northern hemisphere every 375 years or so.

14. The event will give scientists in the U.S. a rare opportunity to study the sun, as well.

15. Fred Espenak, Retired NASA Astrophysicist: Certainly one of the biggest mysteries about the sun’s corona is its temperature. As you travel away from the sun’s surface and move up through the corona, you should expect the temperature  to go down, but it doesn’t. It goes up.

16. The next total solar eclipse to hit the U.S. is expected in April 2024

17. And that one begins in the Pacific, crosses into Mexico, and then it cuts into the United States in Texas, up through Indiana, and up into Ohio and through the New England states and southern Canada. Now because that happens in April, the weather prospects for that aren’t as good as this one in August.

18. But if you want to be there for the Great American Eclipse, it’s August or never!

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP