The 2017 total eclipse is fast approaching ¬†on August 21, 2017, and it’s a great event for many amateur astronomers. The solar eclipse will be visible across the entire contiguous United States, but it will be a total eclipse as it moves from north to south in a diagonal path. See the path and more information about future eclipses here. It’s a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about the relation of the sun to the earth, and the earth’s orbit around the sun.

Free Activity Guide

NASA is offering a free downloadable eclipse activity guide that is packed full of related science experiments and projects that will help us all understand the sun, its magnetic field, infrared and ultraviolet light better. There’s even a cute project to make s’mores using solar energy! One of the most eye opening projects in the guide is the scale model of the solar system. Detailed instructions for laying out a model including all the planets are provided. This project is excellent for giving kids a sense of the scale of the solar system.

Of course, we can’t look directly at the sun during an eclipse without doing damage to our eyes, so we’ll need a viewer to observe the eclipse. The guide provides instructions for making an eclipse viewer too!