by Julie S
You may have heard…the solar eclipse is coming on August 21!
Michigan isn’t fortunate enough this time around to be in the path of totality, but it will experience a partial solar eclipse of 90% around 2:30 pm. If you can’t make the drive to one of the places in totality, here are some things you should know about the eclipse happening here, and some activities to get your kids excited about this fun astronomical event!
WHY IS IT A BIG DEAL?
There hasn’t been a total solar eclipse passing through the entire country since 1918. A chance to watch day turn to night in front of your eyes is something that is a once in a lifetime experience. If you want to see totality, your next chance is in 2024 and still not in Michigan, but it will be visible from northern Indiana and northern Ohio which is closer than this one. The next total solar eclipse to happen in Michigan will be in 2099.
WHERE IS TOTALITY HAPPENING?
The shadow path is where you will witness that once in a lifetime event where day turns to night. You can see Michigan is just above the line, which means that this won’t happen here. If you’re interested in viewing totality, the closest area is southern Illinois, or northwestern Kentucky. But be forewarned, there is a lot of traffic predicted for the day of the eclipse and hotels in totality areas have been booked for months.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO SEE IT?
If you are interested in looking up while in Michigan, you MUST have special glasses. Even if the moon is covering 99% of the sun, the remaining 1% of the sun’s rays is enough to cause retina damage to the human eye. Glasses are available in many places online, both free and for purchase, even on amazon.com. If you are visiting one of the places with totality, you can watch with your naked eye for a short time and only during totality.
Here is an example a great set that you can find on amazon.com. It comes with four pairs of glasses, and a guidebook. (affiliate link)
Kalamazoo Public Library, Comstock Library and Three Rivers Library have signed up to distribute free eclipse viewing glasses. Check their website or contact the libraries for details on when they will be handing them out.
For a complete listing of safety precautions, including the type of glasses to buy, check out NASA’s safety page here.
Can you photograph the eclipse with your smartphone? The short answer is yes, but click here for an explanation of why and what to do.
ACTIVITIES TO DO WITH KIDS
Air Zoo | 6151 Portage Road, Portage
The Air Zoo will be hosting a Solar Eclipse Celebration on August 21st from 11:00am – 3:00pm. There will be crafts, story time, and hands-on activities to learn more about the eclipse, and the unveiling of the Air Zoo’s brand new portable planetarium. All of the activities are included with paid admission and they are also including a pair of solar glasses to watch the eclipse. Glasses will also be available in the museum store.
Kalamazoo Valley Museum | 230 North Rose Street, Kalamazoo
Kalamazoo Valley Museum will offer a number of activities related to the event. The program, “Eclipse 2017” will be shown free of charge in the Planetarium at 11:30am and 12:30pm. The NASA Mega Cast of the eclipse in totality will be shown as a live feed in the Stryker Theater from 11:45-4:15pm. In the Commons area (weather permitting), there will be many opportunities to safely view the Eclipse using a variety of methods and Museum staff will be available to assist visitors.
Willard Library | 36 Minges Creek Plaza, Battle Creek
Educators from Kingman Museum at 6:30pm on Thursday, August 17th will lecture on the science behind the 2017 solar eclipse with hands-on demonstrations and resources to take home.
Kingman Museum | 175 Limit Street, Battle Creek
Grab your blanket or lawn chair on Monday, August 21, 2017 for a free Solar Eclipse Watch Party starting at 1:00 pm and ending at 4:00pm. Peak performance @ 2:20pm. Safety eyeglasses will be for sale. Space themed refreshments and craft activities for the kids provided. Families are invited to stay through the entire event or come and go at their convenience.
NASA has put out a free printable 44-page guide full of activities, resources, and safety guidelines for viewing the eclipse for all different ages. Click above to download it and print it out. It’s perfect for educators, parents, and kids of all ages!