Today was a big day in science, especially since I'm an informal science educator. Here in North Texas we got to see about a 75% eclipse. I was part of a big Eclipse watching event today held in the Fort Worth area. It was also the first day of school for a lot of folks in the area, so everyone was pretty nervous about attendance and participation. As it turns out, that was not a worry we should have had. In fact, we had so many people that some of the viewing areas fill up within minutes.
|People out on the lawn watching the eclipse at 1:02 central time|
I helped with the "eclipse model" activity. As you can see below, this activity takes some very fancy materials. The ping pong ball represents the earth and the bead represents the moon. So basically the scale of this model is 1" = 8,000 miles. Since the earth and moon are about 240,000 miles apart, our bead and ball are 30" apart.
|A model used to explain what happens during an eclipse|
We used a flood light as our sun. In a solar eclipse the moon moved between the sun and the earth casting a shadow as it goes. Since the moon isn't very big as compared to the earth (though at 2,000 miles in diameter it isn't exactly small) the shadow only covers part of earth. This explains why the eclipse isn't viewable from all of earth.
|See the moon's shadow on the ping pong ball (aka earth)|
I did manage to get outside for a little bit of the eclipse and even got to use a coworkers fancy glasses to get a look! We tried to take a picture through them, but as you can see below, that didn't exactly work.
|My fabulous eclipse photo|
Besides the special glasses there were a few other ways to view the eclipse. Some people brought their own pinhole viewing boxes and others created pinhole viewers at the event. A few volunteers also had telescopes set up for people to look through. In addition to all of the outside stuff, there was a live feed of the eclipse available inside, where it was air conditioned. On a 92 degree day, it's something to consider. The key was to not look directly at the sun, because it can damage your eyes. Granted, unless you have been living off the grid or under a rock for the last few weeks, I'm sure you already know that.
|Looking at the eclipse through some pegboard|
Across town, the "True Plant Geek" was able to spend a lot more time outside and got a few shots that show the crescent shaped shadows. It was probably a more peaceful way to enjoy the happenings.
|Shadows during the eclipse|
I hope you all got to take some time, watch this solar eclipse and enjoy some exciting science!