Sunday, August 20, 2017

The American Solar Eclipse of 2017

We don't start our study of Astronomy until the winter of 2018, but with the impending American solar eclipse tomorrow, we pulled out our textbook early.  For Astronomy, we will use Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright (first edition).  (We aren't using the second edition because I had purchased this edition before the second one was released.  It's Jeannie Fulbright.  You can't go wrong.)  We read about solar eclipses on pages 23-24 of the text, then about vision safety as it pertains to the sun on pages 13-14.
 To help better understand why the way smaller moon can cover the sun from our point of view, the text recommends using your thumb to cover the light from a much larger light bulb overhead.  The true eclipse works the same way!
(Here is a total "light bulb eclipse" with my "thumb moon" at the point of totality.)
After reading, we completed the "Why You Should Not Look at the Sun" prompt on page 24 of the Junior Astronomy Notebooking Journal.  (We use the journals with every Apologia science text and highly recommend it!)
(I always purchase thematic stickers to go in her journals, too.)
After we had covered safety, we read Get Eclipsed: The Complete Guide to the American Eclipse: August 21, 2017 by Pat & Fred Espenak, which we purchased at Lowes.  It was a great resource!
Maggie enjoyed reading what some of the people in history thought when a total eclipse occurred.  (The Chinese threw flaming arrows at the sun, hoping to relight it.  In other parts of the world, people thought the sun was being eaten up by a giant monster.  In hopes of scaring it, they would bang on pots, pans and drums.)
Truly, at the moment of totality, it does look like a hole has opened into the sky.
The book also has a great map, showing the path of totality.  We are fortunate to live very close to it!
We are geared up and ready to go!
I had some other pictures I wanted Maggie to see.  The first was on page 162 of The Usborne Science Encyclopedia.
 It showed a good picture of the sun's corona at totality.
Next, we looked at pages C104 and C105 of this old Scott Foresman Science book I have.
I liked the diagram in it, showing the path of the moon and the shadow it casts during a solar eclipse.
The final book we looked in was quite old.  (It belonged to my aunt who was a middle school science teacher.)  It was Astronomy: Our Sun and Its Neighbors, a Golden Exploring Earth book.  It was published in 1974, so it's even older than me.  I really wanted to add it into our lesson because it makes me happy to use my late aunt's teaching materials.  We looked on pages 6-7 of the same ... 
... to show a neat picture of how a total solar eclipse looks over time.
Maggie really enjoyed thinking of the moon as photobombing the sun, an idea we got from this great cartoon I found on an image search!
Our home will be in 94% totality.  To show Maggie ahead of time what that will look like, we found an image of a sun at 94% totality at (below).  This got her very excited!
As per the instructions in our Apologia text (page 26), we set up an easy model of a solar eclipse using a globe, a flashlight, and a ball on a string.  We chose Maggie's prayer closet (as this is a very dark place in our house when the lights are out) and set it up so that our flashlight (the sun) shone right on our country on the globe.
 With the closet light still on, we hung our ball ("the moon") over the flashlight beam to create an eclipse.  This, of course, cast a shadow on the globe.
 It looked even better with the light out!
 She had fun making the eclipse cross the path of totality our country will see tomorrow afternoon, over and over again!
Our next order of business was to make the "Pinhole Viewing Box" as instructed on pages 27-28 of our text.  (We already have our solar eclipse glasses, but we had to make this, too!)  Maggie chose her Froot Loops cereal box for her viewer.
 Here she is making the pinhole that the sun's light will shine through.
 We tested it with our flashlight ...
 ... and it works great!
 Look at that detail from our flashlight!  We can't wait to see if we can spot a few sunspots in our viewer!
We recorded both of these projects on page 32 of our notebooking journal.
We also wanted to make a small craft.  We chose to do the chalk drawing we found at, using black paper, a smaller, circular piece of paper for the moon, tape, chalk, and a piece of tissue.
 First, we taped our circular moon onto the center of our black piece of paper.  Then, using the chalk (Maggie chose light yellow), she outlined the moon.
 Once outlined, she used the tissue to pull the chalk line away from the center.  This creates the sun's corona.
 Looking good!
 Once the corona is spread, carefully remove your taped moon to reveal your total solar eclipse!  (Maggie was very proud of this.)
 We placed it in her notebooking journal, too.
This lesson was such a blast!  Mags is ready to school Daddy today when he gets home from work on all things eclipse!
To finalize this lesson, we used the free "Solar Eclipse Coloring Page" found at for documenting this important event.  (The image below is the site owner's.)
Mags colored hers and filled out what she could.  Tomorrow, she will complete the sheet after our viewing and we will add this to our notebooking journal to complete this study.
Happy and safe viewing, everyone!

*UPDATE: We had a great time watching the solar eclipse and making a memory!  Maggie loved hearing the crickets chirping at 2:30 in the afternoon!  We are so excited to start Astronomy this winter!


  1. Looks like you had a great day! We spent the day at a science museum that had special kid activities set up specifically for the eclipse. (Your chalk drawing was one of them. Emma loved it. We also made sun prints and used UV beads to make a bracelet.) It was a great (but hot) day, and we enjoyed ourselves even though we are not near the path of totality. We feasted on Sun chips and Moon pies!! Ha! The joy of homeschooling is being able to go "all in" for these kinds of events.

    1. Right?? Sounds like you had a great day, too! Making memories! Hope you are both well! Happy new school year to you!