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Celebrate the solar eclipse with crafts and activities, and learn how to view the eclipse safely.
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If you’re in the United States you probably are getting excited about the solar eclipse that is coming on Aug. 21. Depending on where you live you might see a little of the eclipse or a total eclipse that will make it look like night for a couple of minutes in the middle of the day.
It’s an experience you’ll want to check out, with or without your kids (mine will be at school at the time of the eclipse, but I’m definitely heading outside on my own, even though we won’t have totality where we live). This is the first total solar eclipse visible in the contiguous United States since 1979, and there won’t be another one until 2024.
If you want to view the eclipse, of course, you need to be careful of your eyes. It is never safe to look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse. Lots of people have been selling “eclipse viewing glasses” that are not actually safe to use, so if you’re planning to buy some, make sure you get ones that fit the guidelines for safety:
- eclipse glasses block out all ultraviolet and infrared light
- they block out almost all (99.999 percent) visible light
- they should be ISO certified solar safe, with the code ISO 12312-2
- make sure your glasses or filters aren’t punctured or scratched (some say you should discard after three years, but NASA says they can be reused indefinitely as long as the lenses are still in good shape)
In addition, never look at the sun through a telescope, camera, binoculars or other device, even if you have safety glasses on, because the lenses in the device can damage the filter. You should not use these devices without lens filters during an eclipse.
The only time it is safe to remove glasses when looking at the sun during an eclipse is when totality is reached, at which time it will be pitch black. If you’re not in a place where there will be totality, leave your glasses on the whole time.
Regardless of where you live, it’s a fun time to learn about eclipses and make crafts and projects related to the sun and moon.
Learn about eclipses and make your own with balls and a flashlights with this activity from Inspiration Laboratories.
The Mama Workshop made an eclipse viewer out of a diaper box, which I’m guessing lots of mamas have lying around.
Extremely Good Parenting had some good tips on celebrating the eclipse with kids, including books to read, snacks, activities and more. (She even made some adorable eclipse shirts for women and kids, so grab one when you order your glasses!)
If you’re looking for a book to teach kids (and yourself) about what happens in a solar eclipse, check out When the Sun Goes Dark by Andrew Frankoni and Dennis Schatz.
Rated for kids in grades 5 through 8, it tells the story of what it’s like to see an eclipse, different kinds of eclipses (and how to simulate them with common household objects), how to view eclipses safely and more.
There’s a lot of information in this book and some experiments your kids will want to try, too, that will give everyone in the family a better idea of what’s going to happen during the eclipse.
How are you celebrating the eclipse in your household? I’d love to hear about it!