On August 21, 2017, the United States will experience a once-in-a-lifetime event: a total solar eclipse. These don’t happen all that often, as most of them are partials (which are dangerous to look at, as the visible portion of the sun is still extremely bright). This is known as the “Great American Eclipse” due to the fact it is only visible from the United States.

This can turn into a great learning experience for your children. Learning how the sun supports our system, especially our planet, during a solar eclipse is fun!

The following two pictures give a guide to the path of the eclipse. Click to enlarge.

Throw A Party!

This is a perfect time to throw a party! August 21, 2017 falls on a Monday. What better way to start your week than have a party, solar eclipse style? Whether you want to have it indoors or outdoors, you can throw a great party. Take classic party games and make them solar system themed. For example: Pin the tail on the donkey (a true classic) could be pin the Earth (or Sun) in the solar system. There are so many ideas that can come out of regular games turned solar system themed.

NASA has a wealth of information, invitation flyers, and full details on the eclipse on their website: eclipse2017.nasa.gov.

Let me know what your ideas are or what you plan to do!

WARNING! NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. A message from NASA:

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. To date four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

They also have a quick reference PDF you can download and print. Click here to download the PDF.

Weather Issues?

No problem! NASA has you covered! They will be live streaming the event so you can view it whether you have clouds obscuring the sky, have to work (or be indoors), or don’t live in an area where the eclipse will be happening (and can’t travel to a location that it is).

Check out NASA’s live stream here.

How Often Does The USA get a Total Solar Eclipse?

Here is a “road map” to the solar eclipses that will happen in the 21st Century in North America. It doesn’t happen often, and the next one that crosses North America is in April 2024. So gear up and get ready to head outdoors to watch! (Or online if you can’t make it outside!)

What do you plan to do during the eclipse? If you plan on watching it, where will you go to see it? Let me know in the comments below!