Friday, May 18, 2012

Solar Eclipse on Sunday!

Just in case I'm the only rocket scientist you know and you haven't wandered across a news story about this already, here's a little space news for ya...

On Sunday, around sunset, there will be a solar eclipse.  (Where the moon butts her way in between us and the sun, for those of you who haven't had astronomy classes in a while...)

annular eclipse - photo credit

Even when the moon has moved directly in front of the sun it won't completely cover the sun, it will just cover the center of it leaving a "ring of fire" eclipse ('annular eclipse' for you linguistic nerds.)

The western parts of the US should see the full eclipse.  Those of us in the Midwest won't get to see it all because the sun will set too soon. But we'll get to see the beginning of it.   It will probably look something like this...

...sans the beautiful ocean....

Here's a useful site that will show you what time you'll see the eclipse depending on what state you're in...( or country, my Canadian friends...)

Solar Eclipse by State

Wanna know how to watch it?  It's quite easy.

Please don't just look at the sun.  For some reason we have actually had to make that rule with our two older kids and I can't imagine Liam will completely develop without needing it too.  We'll just be riding in the car, look back and see a little one staring wide-eyed at the searing ball of fire that is our sun.  You can practically hear their rods and cones frying.  "NO LOOKING AT THE SUN!"

But it's easy to make a little pinhole viewer.  I'm making one for us, so here's a little tutorial:

You will need:

  • Part of a cardboard Eggo's box.  (Yes, I suppose any sort of cardboard would work)
  • White cardboard or very stiff paper (really anything flat and white.  A paper plate, a white notebook...)
  • aluminum foil
  • a pin
  • a solar eclipse

 1) cut a little window in your cardboard.  (Do not mock my cutting skills.)

2) tape aluminum foil over the window.  (No, I don't know why there's that extra piece of tape along the bottom.  It's bothering me, too.)

3) Put a pinhole in the middle of the aluminum foil.

4) Go find the sun.  Put the white paper down facing the sun, hold the pinhole between it and the sun.  move your pinhole closer and farther from the white paper until...Viola!  An image of the sun.

Yes, my image right now is round since the sun is looking pretty round today.  But during the eclipse it should look like the giant smile you're by now very excited to see.   And if you're far enough west then you may get to see the entire "ring of fire".

Here's a link to's website with a couple extra ideas for how to view it:

Or stay inside, ignore the outside world altogether, and check out one of the dozens of websites that will be showing it. I'll leave it to you to google one.

And, if you're feeling lazy, don't worry.  God made you millions of solar eclipse pinhole viewers.  

Go stand under a leafy tree and find something white to let the leaves' shadows fall on. The spaces between the leaves act like pinholes and you'll see dozens of little eclipses. 

photo credit

Now, if we could just keep clouds away on Sunday night.....

 Happy space watching!


  1. Yay!! I am so excited for the eclipse. We are near a "sweet spot" and will be able to see the whole thing! Really looking forward to it :) If we are not able to get solar glasses, I will have to make one of these pin hole viewers. Thanks for the info.

  2. Oooh, I wonder if we'll be able to see it from our igloo.
    We made an eclipse viewer in science this year so we have at least one. We'll have to use your awesome tute to make more.

  3. Homeschooling rocket scientist... you are a wonder.

  4. Curses, we live in PA...we'll get 9 minutes of a tiny little part of it!


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