It’s something that hasn’t happened here in the United States since your kids were born (assuming that if you’re reading this parenting website then your children are probably under 18-years-old).
On Sunday May 20th, a solar eclipse – a partial disappearance of the sun behind the moon – will take place. This is North America’s first central eclipse of the 21st century and the first annular eclipse since 1994.
Over the course of the solar eclipse, the sun won’t vanish completely, but will remain as a ring around the moon for what is known as an annular eclipse. When the eclipse occurs, the moon will be near its most distant point from Earth, making it appear smaller in the sky and thus unable to block the entire sun.
Basically, it’s going to be totally awesome to see and provides a great chance to get the kids into astronomy. There’s just one caveat…
If you live on the Eastern Seaboard your chances of seeing the eclipse aren’t very good. It’s best viewed from the western United States. Because the positioning of the Earth, moon and sun have to be just right, the best viewing tract runs from Asia through the Pacific region and ends in New Mexico. National Parks are considered the best place to watch.
Bummer for those of us leaving on the eastern half of the United States.
For those of you who will get to see it, make sure you take the proper safety precautions. I did a little digging and discovered that, according to NASA, you probably should use use special solar glasses or other eye protection to watch Sunday’s partial eclipse:
The only time that the Sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye is during a total eclipse, when the Moon completely covers the disk of the Sun. It is never safe to look at a partial or annular eclipse, or the partial phases of a total solar eclipse, without the proper equipment and techniques.
And consider yourself warned: while the eclipse is awfully cool to look at, photographing the solar eclipse could damage your camera. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, “Aiming a camera at the eclipse unprotected could damage it. Hopeful photographers need to add a solar filter to their setup, which will wash out the view of the landscape.” So if you’re a casual photographer, just enjoy the view!
Happy viewing everyone!
You can also find Monica on her personal blog, The Girl Who.
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