Day 133: Eclipse Precision

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Astronomy students used theĀ NASA Eclipse site to investigate one solar and one lunar eclipse of their choosing that will occur later in this century. They figured out a point in the path of the umbra for the solar eclipse and a position on Earth for the lunar eclipse and then used Stellarium to view the eclipse. I am trying to impress upon them how predictable the universe is. The example shared here is for the August 21, 2017 eclipse as seen from South Carolina. Here is the animation (they love these and it shows the umbra and penumbra so well) and the details. The eclipse from Charleston will begin at 1:18 pm and totality will begin at 2:46. Below is the lunar eclipse, visible form the east coast in the early morning of April 15, 2014. Moon totally eclipsed from about 3:10 to 4:20 am.

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Day 48: Five Minute Field Trip

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As we start our unit on eclipses I try to take the Astronomy students outside for a 5 minute field trip on a clear sunny day. We all don solar eclipse glasses and take a look at the sun. Most are amazed to see how small the actual disk is in the sky. They are much better able to understand how the Moon and the Sun occupy the same space in the sky and how the Moon could eclipse the sun. I had the glasses made in 2012 for the transit of Venus so they are in our school colors and even have our mascot on the temple.

Day 5: Stellarium

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I can’t tell you in words how much I love Stellarium. My astronomy (elective) students begin the year figuring out the maximum sun angle, compass direction of sunrise and sunset, and length of day on the equinoxes and the solstices. We are able to chat about the seasons and what causes them. For those who finish early I have them investigate the total solar eclipse of 8/21/2017 by setting Stellarium to that date and a location in the path of totality.