The Best Monday Ever
On August 21, 2017, the sun, moon, and earth will most assuredly align. That Monday, all of North America will see a partial solar eclipse, and a narrow swath from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a total solar eclipse. Make it your mission to see totality!
Anticipate taking off work and school that Monday. Get into place near the centerline by Saturday and enjoy the Sunday. Do not plan to travel the Monday of the eclipse. Book your lodging now. If clouds threaten your viewing, be prepared to move along the centerline to clear skies.
That's right, I said skip school if you can travel to the centerline. Isn't the spectacle of a total solar eclipse the education we want our kids to experience? It should be a Sol Day, anyway, like a Snow Day, especially for school districts close to the swath of totality. Through an online contact form I wrote Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz about the notion of a Sol Day, but I haven't heard back from her. Maybe you could try contacting her.
For those not traveling, prepare now for community viewing of the partial eclipse, for about 85% of the sun will be obscured by the moon as seen from Michiana. Start ordering solar shades! Newspapers should market a sponsoring opportunity for a solar shades ad insert included in every paper, say, the first two Sundays in August 2017. Eyewear stores should stock solar shades, too. In order to view the partial eclipse safely, everyone will need eye protection.
I and others propose to call a meeting of Michiana educators and stakeholders who will remain here for the solar eclipse. We'll introduce the eclipse circumstances; demonstrate ways to observe the sun safely; share any anticipated local events; and discuss our regional educational response to this science phenomenon.
Not all observing techniques are expensive. For example, Ken Miller of Indiana offers a simple yet effective means to project the sun with just a basic mirror. Up front I'll say I'm not a fan of the old style projection technique with the box and pinhole, but we'll talk more about safety then.
Plan ahead, for many of the people (including myself) who do astronomy stuff with the public are not going to be around the Great Lakes on August 21. I anticipate this will be the most observed celestial phenomenon in US history. Let's get together and talk. Let's put together a group order for solar shades to save money on this requisite safety tool. To teach lab safety you have to commit to it.
Anyhow, if you are an educator or group leader and you want to join the local eclipse dialogue, join us at the to-be-announced meeting. Please come with an estimate of how many solar shades you think you might add to the bulk order--no commitment, just an expectation. If you would like to suggest preferred dates and times for us to host such a meeting or if you have material to present, please, contact me with your proposal.
We'll talk more about the eclipse in the coming months. In the interim, check out the links at my Eclipse 2017 page. Start looking at maps. And maybe let your workplace and school know you plan on taking off that Monday. Without hyperbole I assert the total solar eclipse (seen only along the swath that bisects the US) will be the visual spectacle of a lifetime for most people. Make it yours.