The first total solar eclipse to traverse the mainland in more than a generation is coming Monday, Aug. 21! Get ready to watch (safely!) and explore the eclipse through cutting edge science with PBS KIDS and “NOVA.” Keep reading to find out how to build your own “Ready Jet Go!” Pinhole Eclipse Projector, check out PBS KIDS’ “Plum Landing” activities, tips for explaining eclipses to kids from PBS Parents, and great learning resources from PBS LearningMedia and “NOVA.”
What happens during an eclipse?
Eclipses happen when something called a syzygy (syz•y •gy)— a straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies in a gravitational system — occurs. For the solar eclipse, as the moon passes in front of the sun, it blocks most sunlight from reaching earth. While Arkansas isn’t in the path of totality where the eclipse makes the sky totally dark, we’re going to see a pronounced dimming of sunshine and the shadows will become very crisp! This eclipse is special because while solar eclipses are pretty common, total solar eclipses where the umbra (shadow) of the moon completely blocks the sun’s corona (its ethereal outer atmosphere) are very rare.
Keep exploring with a video from NASA and PBS LearningMedia here.
Can I watch an eclipse?
We can all watch the solar eclipse, but we need to find a safe way to do so. Looking directly at the sun at any time (even during eclipses) can hurt your eyes, even if you don’t feel it. To watch the eclipse, you can either use special eclipse glasses, view a recording of the eclipse (like this livestream from “NOVA”), or you can find a way to watch indirectly, like using a pinhole eclipse projector.
Making a Pinhole Eclipse Projector is a simple and safe way to watch the eclipse, and we have some special instructions from “Ready Jet Go!” you can download to help you get started! Excelsior!
Find even more fun eclipse viewing tips from “Ready Jet Go!” NASA Astronomer Dr. Amy with PBS Parents, and be sure to check out fun activities from Plum Landing. Then, tonight at 8, explore the science behind this extraordinary celestial event in “NOVA: Eclipse Over America”