On August 21st, a total solar eclipse will cross the entire continental United States. While solar eclipses are common, one of this magnitude hasn’t happened in almost 100 years, since June 8, 1918. But before you run outside to catch a sight of this spectacle, keep these tips in mind to safely prepare for the solar eclipse.
Protect those peepers.
Eager little astronomers will want to stare straight into the solar eclipse—but they shouldn’t. Only those on the path of totality (when the moon totally obscures the sun) will be able to safely view the solar eclipse, and that’s only for a mere 2.5 minutes. For those not on the same path, you can view the 90-minute partial eclipse but only with proper eye protection. Use eclipse glasses (not regular sunglasses) from reputable vendors for safest viewing, since even a brief glimpse of the eclipse can cause major damage to your eyes. Local libraries might have some glasses available.
Since a solar eclipse of this magnitude is a rare occurrence, it makes sense that many people will venture outside to be a part of the excitement. Roads along the path of totality are expected to be jammed, as people scramble to get a good spot. Keep safety in mind as you pick a place for viewing for you and your little ones.
Explain the process.
Sure, it’s cool to think that it’s midnight right in the middle of the day, but explain how a solar process happens so that your kids can get the most out of the experience. Solar eclipses happen when the moon moves between the earth and the sun. When it’s in the right spot, it blocks the view of the sun from the earth. You can make a science experiment out of this by using balls and lining them up to show how the sun’s light is blocked by the moon.