Let’s Talk Solar Eclipse! by Michelle Hollander
The latest hubbub is about a special event occurring on Monday, August 21st.  It’s a total solar eclipse – where the moon passes directly in front of the sun.  While solar eclipses are not necessarily rare (2-5 occur per year), there has not been a total solar eclipse over the United States since 1979.  Further exciting, a coast-to-coast total eclipse hasn’t tracked over the U.S. since 1918!  Solar eclipses cannot happen every month for the simple reason that the Moon’s orbit is tilted over five degrees in comparison to earth’s orbit.  The moon’s shadow is known as the “umbra zone”, and it is in these areas that a total eclipse will be seen: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia (NOAA).  So what about Long Island?  Barring excessive cloudiness, we too can see the eclipse; it will just be a partial one. In Oyster Bay, we expect the moon to cover 70.5% of the sun, since we are in the penumbra zone.  The moon will be in the sun’s path beginning at 1:24pm and continue for 2 hours and 36 minutes.  However, peak viewing will be at 2:45 pm. We won’t let this experience go unnoticed at the WaterFront Center.  Since it is unsafe to look directly at the sun, we invite parents/ guardians with their children to join us in making pin-hole viewers to watch the moon’s shadow pass over the sun.  These devices can be easily crafted with cereal boxes or paper towel tubes, some white paper, and tin foil.  Plus, we are provided with an opportunity to reuse and recycle everyday items!  A Google or Pinterest search will yield many design options. The pinhole viewer and other associated crafts teach that during “totality”, the bright ring around the moon is due to the sun’s corona (the outer region).  Even though the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, it is also 400 times further away (Kids Discover), which is why the moon can cover the sun so well.
What’s the difference between a solar and lunar eclipse? Lunar eclipses occur when a full moon passes through Earth’s shadow and results in a reddish-colored moon. Who was the first person to identify why eclipses happen in 376 B.C.? Anaxagoras, an Athenian philosopher (Kids Discover) What word describes when the sun, moon, and earth are all aligned? Synergy We hope that our discussions and lessons will inspire our participants to learn more about the earth around us. You don’t need to a junior summer participant to attend our FREE event! Safe eclipse viewing glasses are hard to find, but you too can craft your own eclipse viewer with help from WaterFront Center staff.  We simply request the following:
  • Please arrive at 1:45 pm to make your viewer.
  • Bring your own cereal box or paper towel tube.
  • Youth should be accompanied by a parent/ adult at all times.
  • Be ready for the show at 2:45 pm!
We can’t wait to see you!  What will you do on Monday?