Everything You Need To Know About The Total Solar Eclipse
By now, you have most likely heard about the All-American Transcontinental Total Solar Eclipse. But what exactly is a “solar eclipse”? When is it happening? How do you get your kids excited about it? And what can you do about it here in Los Angeles? We’ve got the answers for you!
A total solar eclipse means the moon will completely block the sun and cast a shadow over our nation.
The total solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017 will be the first one visible in the United States since 1979! The eclipse will travel across our country, and cities from Oregon down to South Carolina will be on the path offering a glimpse of this total eclipse. Those along this path will be able to witness the spectacle of the Sun being blocked out by the Moon for about 2-3 minutes. But, if you can’t arrange a trip to view the total eclipse, everyone in the United States will still be able to view at least a partial solar eclipse.
Don’t forget — it’s never safe to look directly at the sun. You’ll need special “eclipse glasses.” Click here to read an article from NASA regarding eclipse-viewing safety.
What The Partial Eclipse Means for Los Angeles:
NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) projects that the ideal viewing time for the eclipse is 10:21 am to 11:44 am.
Here in Los Angeles, we can expect to view an eclipse that takes up just under 70% of the sun’s diameter. The process should start at about 9:05 am, the maximum amount of overlap should happen about 10:20 am, and by 11:45 am, “the show” will mostly be over.
However, keep in mind that if you hope to see the partial eclipse you’ll need some special equipment such as solar eclipse glasses, telescopes with solar filters, or pinhole cameras.
And, anticipate a lot of traffic on the 21st. Be sure to allow extra driving time if you’re planning on attending a public eclipse viewing event.
Click here for a short animated visual that may make it easier for younger children to understand what is happening with our moon and sun during a solar eclipse.
Where To Go:
County of Los Angeles Public Library
several branches throughout Los Angeles
Several branches of the Los Angeles County Public Library system are hosting special eclipse-related events beginning as early as Monday, August 7th. Activities are available for different ages (some for those 4-12, some for ages 12-18, and some for all ages). Special story times, art activities, making a solar eclipse viewer, and more. And then on Monday, August 21st, these same branches welcome you to come back and view the eclipse as a community. Check the website for details.
2800 E. Observatory Rd., Los Angeles, CA
The Griffith Observatory is hosting a public viewing on its front lawn from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. This event is free and is expected to create quite a lot of traffic and parking difficulties, so be sure to look into public transportation. The Observatory gift shop will be selling special “eclipse viewers,” and no personal telescopes will be allowed at this event.
City of Los Angeles Public Library
several branches throughout Los Angeles
Many branches of the Los Angeles Public Library system are also hosting eclipse-related events throughout the month. Activities include art projects, documentaries, special story times, and more. And then on the 21st, many library branches will be hosting eclipse viewing parties. Check the website for specific details.
L.A. State Historic Park
1245 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
The event at L.A. State Historic Park is sponsored by the National Park Service. Beginning at 8:30 am, rangers will be on hand at the Gateway to Nature Center. The official event begins at the Park at 9:30 am. (The Gateway to Nature Center is located at 130 Paseo de la Plaza. If you plan to go there first, you’ll then hike to the park to view the eclipse).
King Gillette Ranch
26876 Mulholland Way, Calabasas, CA 91302
King Gillette Ranch invites families to view the partial eclipse at this scenic spot. This National Park Service event includes a ranger available at the Santa Monica Mountains Interagency Visitor Center at 9:30 am to talk about the eclipse and answer questions. Afterwards, visitors will be able to view the partial eclipse from the grounds. And if you haven’t yet been to King Gillette Ranch (the ranch was designed for Mr. Gillette, of the Gillette razor brand), you’ll find a “rare unspoiled view of California’s rich archeological, cultural, and historic resources, including a Chumash settlement.”
Rancho Sierra Vista
cross street of Via Goleta and Lynn Rd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
This Thousand Oaks location will begin activities at 9:30 am. Children’s activities and Native American sky stories are planned before viewing the eclipse together. A limited supply of solar glasses and Junior Ranger eclipse books will be available.
Solar Eclipse Viewing with JPL
Kidspace Children’s Museum
480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91103
Kidspace Children’s Museum is hosting an eclipse viewing experience from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm. Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will be on hand as well. Families will be provided with free solar sunglasses and will also have the chance to make pinhole viewers in the Imagination Workshop. The Museum will also broadcast the NASA live stream as the eclipse makes its way across the United states. Admission is $13 each.
Solar Eclipse Event and Senior Citizen Day Celebration
Pretend City Children’s Museum
29 Hubble, Irvine, CA 92618
Pretend City Children’s Museum is opening early for a special solar eclipse event (from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm). A variety of special activities are planned including an eclipse viewing party. And because it’s Senior Citizen Day, grandparents (those 65 and older) receive 50% off admission. (General admission is $12.50).
Things To Do At Home:
It’s not safe for our eyes to look directly at the partial eclipse, yet we’ll all be tempted to look because no one wants to miss it. Luckily, families can make a pinhole camera that will allow you to view the partial eclipse safely. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) here in Pasadena has posted a step-by-step guide to making your own pinhole camera, and it only requires a few items. Click here for the instructions (pictures included).
If you’ve got young ones at home and can’t make it to an organized viewing party, make your own viewing party in the comfort of your home. Invite some other families over, gather in the backyard, and keep it casual. And for added back-up, you can connect to NASA’s live streaming of this historic event!
Creating a time capsule is a fun, family-friendly activity to commemorate the eclipse. The next total solar eclipse is expected to cross the continental United States on April 8, 2024. What things would your family enjoy looking at in 7 years’ time? Family photos? A letter describing your family? A newspaper dated August 21st? How about tracing your children’s hands to compare how much they’ve grown when the time capsule is opened in 7 years?
NASA wants to know about your eclipse experience. How did you feel? What did it look like to you? NASA is compiling entries that will be included in their time capsule. The time capsule will be opened upon the next total solar eclipse happening in seven years.
NASA is inviting all those who witness the eclipse to participate in its Eclipse Art Quilt Project. You have until September 15th to take a picture of your artwork and upload it. And, if the weather doesn’t cooperate with your viewing, you can still participate in the Quilt Project by viewing the eclipse via NASA’s live streaming. Artwork may be a painting, drawing, collage, mixed media, or computer generated. Check the website for all the specifics.