Sunday, January 31, 2016

An "All-American" Eclipse of the Sun Next Year


On August 21, 2017, there will be a gorgeous total eclipse of the Sun visible from the U.S. (and only the US!) The path of what is being called the “All American” total eclipse is only about 60 miles wide and goes from a beach in Oregon to a beach in South Carolina, crossing the country diagonally. (None of our country's largest cities will see it, alas.) A less spectacular partial eclipse will be visible to 500 million people in the other parts of the US and North America.

Astronomers expect tremendous media and public interest in the eclipse and it is not too early to start thinking about how and where best to see it. Eclipse enthusiasts are already busy reserving lodging and viewing space in the narrow region where the total phase can be seen.
The non-profit National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) is making available a popular-level introduction to help explain the eclipse and how to view it. The free 8-page booklet, which I helped write, is available at:http://www.nsta.org/…/f…/solarscience/SolarScienceInsert.pdf
Feel free to share this free booklet with anyone who might be interested.
The eclipse information comes from a new book for educators, entitled Solar Science, which I had the pleasure of writing with my long-time colleague and friend Dennis Schatz. It includes 45 hands-on learning experiences (and lots of background information) about the Sun, the Moon, the sky, the calendar, the seasons, and eclipses. You can see the full table of contents and some sample activities at:http://static.nsta.org/files/PB403Xweb.pdf
Shameless shopping hint: The book could be a wonderful gift for a teacher, a museum or nature center educator, a park ranger, or an amateur astronomer interested in public outreach. See:http://www.nsta.org/store/product_detail.aspx…
But quite separate from the book, please enjoy the free booklet, and, if you can, think about getting to the total eclipse path as part of your summer planning for next year. The image below, by French photographer Luc Viatour, gives you just a taste of how spectacular a total eclipse can be:


NASA is also planning activities and a national website for the eclipse, as is the American Astronomical Society, the main professional organization of astronomers.  I'll let people know when such other resources are available.  In the meantime, the free booklet from NSTA has an eclipse map and information about what will be visible when from many parts of the U.S.  At the end, there are links to sites where you can see very detailed maps of the eclipse path and even commentary about typical August weather at each place.

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