Solar eclipses are a part of nature. Why do you think people find them to be so fascinating?
Would you rather view the eclipse through special glasses, binoculars, a telescope or a pinhole projector? Why?
Which do you consider to be the most amazing: That solar eclipses happen or that astronomers can predict-down to the minute-when and where they will occur? Why?
In the article, NASA scientist Madhulika Guharthakurta says that observing a total eclipse is similar to the way astronauts describe their first trip to space. She says, "You're just so in awe of nature." Do you agree with her comment? Do you think you might feel as she does after observing the eclipse for yourself? Why or why not?
- Display the American Astronomical Society's map showing when and where to see the upcoming solar eclipse. Invite a volunteer to identify your school's location on the map. Have students determine what portion of the eclipse they will be able to see. If your school does not lie in the path of a total solar eclipse, challenge students to calculate how far they would need to travel to see one.
- Inform students that total solar eclipses are rare, but they have occurred throughout history. Now, we know much about them. But long ago, that wasn't the case. People were scared because they didn't understand what was happening. They wrote myths in an attempt to explain.
- Present a list of topics related to the science and history of solar eclipses or have students brainstorm ideas of their own. Inform them that they will conduct research to learn about these topics. Challenge students to identify a variety of creative ways that they can present the information to others.
- Assign topics or have students select one of their own. Then give the class time to conduct research and create presentations that showcase what they learned. Invite other classes to tour your solar eclipse event.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
From the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, this collection includes art, tips for safely viewing an eclipse and eclipse science.
Download this app to watch a live NASA stream of the eclipse as it travels across the continental United States, calculate your view with the interactive eclipse map and get a virtual view in Smithsonian’s eclipse simulator.
The videos, stories and lessons in this quick guide from the National Air and Space Museum tell you everything you need to know about the upcoming solar eclipse.
You don’t need fancy equipment to safely view the eclipse. Watch this NASA video to learn how to make a pinhole projector out of a cereal box and a few other simple supplies.
On Earth, we experience two types of eclipses: solar and lunar. But what’s the difference? Have students review this NASA site for a simple explanation.
Read this Smithsonian article to learn how the same unease you feel when the moon blots out the sun fueled ancient astronomers to seek patterns in the skies.
Use this lesson plan from the National Park Service to teach students about another total solar eclipse that passed over North America more than 100 years ago.
Can’t wait for the big event? Watch this video of a partial solar eclipse that occurred on May 25, 2017—as it was seen from space.