Exciting times in the USA - a total Solar Eclipse will cross our country on Monday, August 21, 2017!
Are your kids asking questions? Would you like to get a quick overview about eclipses and what it will look like here in Tucson?
We're pleased to bring you a helpful Q&A with Shipherd Reed, Associate Director of Communications at Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium. Feel free to read this aloud to your kids so that they can get the inside scoop on this week's thrilling natural phenomenon.
Q. What exactly is a solar eclipse?
A. A solar eclipse happens when the moon, which orbits the Earth, moves in between the Earth and the Sun and blocks our view of the Sun. A total solar eclipse happens when the moon completely covers the face of the sun from the perspective of someplace on the surface of the Earth.
Q. How often do solar eclipses happen?
A. Partial solar eclipses happen about once a year somewhere on the surface of the Earth. Total solar eclipses are less frequent, but still not uncommon. However, this one is different because of where the total solar eclipse will happen. It is quite rare for a total solar eclipse to cross the United States. There has not been a total solar eclipse that crossed the USA since 1918. The strip of shadow where people will see the total solar eclipse as it moves across the USA from West to East is called the "path of totality."
Q. Will the sky look different on Monday?
A. We will only see a partial solar eclipse here in Tucson. At the peak of the eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017, 60% of the face of the sun will be covered by the moon. It will appear as a crescent sun. (Remember not to look at it unless you have solar viewing glasses!) The light from the sun will dim, as it does when a cloud passes in front of the sun, but it will not grow dark. For people viewing the eclipse from the "path of totality," the sky will go dark and it will be like twilight just after the sun sets.
Q. What time will the solar eclipse be viewable in Tucson?
A. Here in Tucson, the partial eclipse will start at 9:16am, it will peak at 10:36am, and it will end completely at 12:03pm. The best time to view the eclipse in Tucson will be between 10:15am and 10:45am.
Q. What kind of glasses do I need to view the eclipse?
A. Looking directly at the sun is dangerous - don't do it! You can safely view the eclipse using "solar viewing glasses," which are available for purchase for $5/pair at Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium. One size fits all. You can also view the "crescent sun" shadow using a pinhole viewer.
Q. Do you have any other safety tips for viewing and enjoying the eclipse?
A. Use solar viewing glasses! You can also view the "crescent sun" shadow using a pinhole viewer that you can make with cardboard or paper. See below for an opportunity to build your own pinhole viewer this weekend.
Flandrau Science Center is celebrating and educating all weekend long!
Flandrau, which is located on the campus of the University of Arizona, will have special planetarium shows from Friday through Sunday that will answer all of your eclipse questions: What is a solar eclipse? How often do they happen? How do we view them safely?
There will also be “mini-talks” about the solar eclipse after kid-friendly planetarium shows.
Before or after a planetarium show, visitors can enjoy eclipse activities that are fun for the whole family. One great way to view a solar eclipse is a Pinhole Viewer Box. During Solar Eclipse Weekend, Flandrau will have all the supplies and instructions you need to build your own Pinhole Viewer and decorate it with cool colors and designs. They will also have handouts available that show the map of the “path of totality” and explain the eclipse and how to view it safely. Eclipse activities will be available during regular hours on Friday (9:00am-10:00pm), Saturday (10:00am-10:00pm), and Sunday (12:00pm-5:00pm).
While you’re at the science center, you may also want to see the new gallery of Mars images. The exhibit - named HiRISE: Eye In The Martian Sky - features a selection of incredible high-resolution images of the Martian surface taken by the powerful HiRISE camera. Fun Fact: The University of Arizona built the camera and every image from HiRISE is sent FIRST to U of A for processing!
Flandrau admission (includes one (1) planetarium show) is $16 for adults, $12 for children. You can purchase admission to additional planetarium shows separately: $8/adult, $6/child.
A number of libraries, bookstores, and educational facilities are offering solar eclipse viewing parties and opportunities. See below for locations, times, and admission fees.
Unless otherwise noted, all of the below events will take place on Monday, August 21, 2017.
Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium
Dairy Queen Celebrates Total Solar Eclipse
Will you watch the solar eclipse in Tucson? If you bought solar glasses, where did you purchase them?