Mark your calendar for Monday, August 21, 2017. That’s when the first total solar eclipse will be viewable in the continental United States* in over 38 years. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, completely blocking the sun’s bright light. Don’t miss out -- the next total eclipse in the United States isn’t until 2024.
You’ll need to take precautions when watching an eclipse or you can damage your eyesight. We’ll show you how to watch it safely.
Just any old sunglasses won’t do. Eclipse glasses are specially formulated to protect your eyes during this event. They’re the equivalent to wearing 13 pairs of sunglasses. Make sure to follow the directions that come with them.
If you plan on viewing the eclipse through a telescope or binoculars, you can't use eclipse glasses. You’ll need to purchase special solar filters.
This simple project uses two pieces of white card stock, aluminum foil, tape, scissors and a needle.
Using the scissors, cut a square in the middle of one piece of card stock. Then tape a piece of foil over the square hole.
Use the needle to poke a smooth round hole in the center of the foil.
Turn your back to the sun and place the second piece of plain card stock on the ground in front of you. Hold the piece with the hole (foil facing up) above the cardboard that’s on the ground. Move around until you see a small projection of the eclipse below. Hold it farther away to make the image larger.
When you use any pinhole projector, your back should always be to the sun. Never look at the sun through the pinhole.
You’ll need a cereal box, aluminum foil, white card stock, pencil, tape, scissors and a needle.
Put a piece of white card stock on the table and place the cereal box on top. Trace the bottom of the cereal box and cut the piece of card stock.
Tape the cut card stock to the inside bottom of the cereal box.
Cut two rectangles on the left side and the right side of the cereal box opening, leaving the middle intact.
Tape a piece of aluminum foil over one opening on the top. Then use the needle to poke a smooth hole in the middle of the foil.
Turn your back to the sun. Look through the hole in the foil to see a projected image of the eclipse.
During the eclipse, pay special attention to the sights and sounds around you. Often times it becomes very quiet. Birds will stop chirping and any breeze will disappear. You should also feel a noticeable change in the weather. It’s not uncommon for the temperature to dip 10-15 degrees Fahrenheit.
The longest a total eclipse has ever lasted is 7 minutes and 28 seconds. The longest point of the total eclipse on August 21st is expected to be 2 minutes and 41 seconds.
*Not everyone in the US will be able to view a total solar eclipse, but they’ll be able to see a partial one. What kind of eclipse will you see in your area? Use this guide to find out.