Several weeks ago I was sitting on the couch watching reruns on Netflix with my husband when I got a very excited text from my mom.
“DID YOU KNOW THERE IS A SOLAR ECLIPSE IN AUGUST?! And it’s right where my relatives live in Tennessee!”
A few minutes later…
“I’m going. Who’s going with me?! BUCKET LIST!”
My mom’s a pretty chill lady. She doesn’t get too excited or worked up about too many things so when the woman says something is on her bucket list, you know it’s a big deal.
And really, this is a big deal!
This super cool calculator shows how many solar eclipses will happen in your lifetime and where they will be.
Yeah, there are a lot…but almost none of them are near us.
This year’s solar eclipse is within driving distance of almost everyone in the U.S. By that I mean the path of totality when the sun will be completely blocked by the moon.
Here in East Texas, we’ll only see a partial eclipse. The moon will block 75% of the sun but not the whole thing. You should notice a dimming and can view the eclipse using a pinhole camera.
But I won’t be here in East Texas.
I’ll be with my mother in Nashville! As soon as she heard about it, she called her cousin and asked if we could stay there. The area hotels were already filling up fast!
Texts were going fast among my siblings as we all figured out who could get off work and who was driving.
As homeschoolers, it seemed like a great kick-off to our new school year… Then we decided to enroll our kids in public school (that’s another story). So as I interviewed the principals at all three schools, I had to ask how much of a problem it would be to miss the first Monday of the school year, they each agreed it was a fine idea. Solar eclipses don’t happen that often and when they do, we usually don’t get to see the total effect.
I’m the kind of mom that woke my kids up at 4 am a few years ago to stand on our front porch and watch the lunar eclipse.
Last year, we floated in the swimming pool at midnight and watched for meteors.
I guess it’s in my blood. I remember lying in the grass beside my mom as a teenager as one after another, “shooting stars” filled the night sky.
There were nights staring up at the sky watching for the space shuttle to pass by, and the amazing Hale-Bopp Comet in 1997.
I remember making my new boyfriend (now my husband) drive out to the middle of nowhere to park…not for makeout sessions, for meteor showers!
And my oldest memory of watching the miracles of the heavens was as a barefoot, almost-5-year-old, standing in my neighbors grass with my whole family, searching the skies for the once-in-a-lifetime Halley’s Comet. The grass itched my ankles and I couldn’t see what the fuss was all about.
My dad lifted me up onto his shoulders and pointed at the dark, sparkly sky. All I knew was, this was a big deal…
Something was happening that was much bigger than me or my dad or any of us. It was too big to control. We couldn’t bring it back again to watch it one more time. We couldn’t plan it or reschedule it to fit out busy lives.
It was a sign of the vastness of the universe.
The movements of the heavenly bodies dance in their rhythm everyday and we hardly notice as we scurry about worrying about iPhones and grocery lists and laundry piles.
Every now and then, the heavens have to shake us up a little bit by putting on a show.
It’s a reminder that we are not the center of the universe. We’re not as big as we think we are. We’re just a teensy, tiny part of the abundance and magnitude of the cosmos.
I encourage you to make a big deal of this with your kids.
Embrace this cosmically significant event and teach them about astronomy.
We studied astronomy in our homeschool lessons a few years ago, but we’ll review those lessons before we witness the solar eclipse on Monday.
You can do the same.
Share about the Eclipse with your kids:
- Use a ball, a globe (or another ball) and a flashlight to represent the moon, the earth, and the sun. Stand in a dark room and show them why we have the phases of the moon and what happens during a solar eclipse. Let them see how the shadow only hits certain parts of the earth.
- Build a pinhole camera to project the image of the sun on to the ground so you can watch as it’s covered up by the sun.
- Talk to your child’s teacher about the event and how they plan to incorporate it into the lessons.
- Use it as a chance to be grateful for the movement of the heavenly bodies. The everyday miracle of sunrises, sunsets, moon phases and such are so easily overlooked. Take time to appreciate them.
- Use the calculator linked above to figure out when the next solar eclipse your child will witness is.
- You’ve probably already heard, but if you do plan to view the eclipse, be sure you are wearing safe protective eyewear.
Even if you don’t think your kids are old enough to understand the astronomy of what’s going on, they’ll understand your enthusiasm and they’ll pick up on at least 2 great life lessons.
1-Science is really cool!
2-You’re not the center of the universe, but you are a part of it, and it works beautifully!
Go make some memories with your kids!
Check this out from the National Weather Service to get an idea of what the Eclipse will look like in your area.