Preparing for two rare solar eclipses visible across the U.S.: A practical guide for teachers, students, and the public

Two rare solar eclipses visible throughout the continental U.S. present an extraordinary opportunity for Americans over the next two years. The first one, a “ring of fire” eclipse, will occur on Oct. 14, 2023, and the second one, a total eclipse, will be visible from Texas to Maine on April 8, 2024.

While these eclipses promise to be remarkable events and teachable moments, proper preparation is crucial. To help teachers, students, and the general public get ready for the eclipses, astronomer Douglas Duncan of the University of Colorado has published a practical playbook in The Physics Teacher. Duncan also provides guidance on safe eclipse-viewing and suggests ways to fundraise for schools and organizations. The Fiske Planetarium, where Duncan used to be the director, is also creating short videos about the upcoming eclipses.

The 2017 eclipse, which was a total eclipse visible in Wyoming, was witnessed by over 100 million Americans in person or through media, according to NASA surveys. Duncan, who has witnessed 12 eclipses since 1970, emphasizes the significance of eye protection and recommends Solar Eclipse Glasses and Rainbow Symphony as reliable and affordable suppliers of viewing glasses. He also developed Solar Snap, a filter and app for smartphones that allows for safe and effective eclipse photography.

Duncan advises small groups to use binoculars to project an image of the sun onto a sheet of paper to observe the spectacle safely. Above all, he calls for organizing, planning ahead, and spreading the word to make the most of these events. He urges students to talk to their teachers or principals, and organizers of large viewing events to consider the logistics involved. Duncan stresses that much of the responsibility falls on teachers, students, and communities to ensure a successful and unforgettable experience.

Source: American Institute of Physics

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