A Rare Teaching Moment: The Solar Eclipse

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Brad Choyt

Educators love to take advantage of unique occurrences and turn them into teaching moments. On Monday, August 21, one such moment will happen across the entire United States: a solar eclipse. And since most schools will not be in session then, I thought I would share five fun facts and a great resource to teach about this relatively rare event:

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1) Monday’s total eclipse is the first one in the continental US in thirty-eight years.

2) Eclipses happen with a New Moon when it lines up between the sun and the earth and casts a shadow on our planet.

3) Near the sixty percent mark of the eclipse, which is the extent of this eclipse in the Upper Valley, you may notice that shadows become sharper. The reason for this is that the light coming from the sun’s disk is shrinking, and smaller light sources produce better defined shadows.

4) The sun’s diameter is approximately 400 times larger than the moon, but it is also 400 times further away so it is coincidence that they look about the same size in the sky. 

5) If you miss this eclipse, the next one in the United States will be in April 2024.

Want more information about the eclipse?  A great resource with an interactive map can be found here:  https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/7/25/16019892/solar-eclipse-2017-interactive-map.

And with all teaching moments, it can be so rewarding to take the time to wonder at our universe’s unique qualities along with those around you. For while we know more about eclipses today than ever before, there is still much remaining to discover.


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