Experience Homeschool Science First Hand with the Solar Eclipse

As homeschooling moms we know that the best way for a child to learn is through first hand experience. This year an event that hasn’t happened in 99 years will happen. A solar eclipse will happen across the United States. 

Coming up this year, on Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be able to view an eclipse of the sun

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Experience Homeschool Science First Hand with the 2017 Solar Eclipse | Renée at

The eclipse will be 3000 miles long, but the total eclipse path is only 70 miles wide. That means that only those who are along this path will be able to experience a total solar eclipse as the moon’s shadow passes over.  But everyone in the Continental USA will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse.

While our home sits just outside the totality viewing area, the Kansas City region, our family takes an annual trip to Sevierville, TN during the time of the eclipse and this year is no exception. Thankfully, the path will travel through that area as well. While we may be just outside the total eclipse for viewing we should be able to witness the majority of the sun’s eclipse from where we are, or with a short drive be able to experience the path of totality. 

The Solar Eclipse Path of Totality and How the Solar Eclipse will Travel

Understanding How a Solar Eclipse Works

A solar eclipse is a celestial event where the moon passes between the sun and Earth. It blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, from beginning to end, depending upon the given location.  For the August 21st eclipse, the longest period of totality in any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds.  

There are 4 Types of Eclipses

Depending upon your location you will most likely see at least one type on August 21, 2017.

  • A Total Eclipse – When the moon passes completely in front of the sun.
  • A Partial Eclipse
  • An Annular Eclipse
  • A Hybrid Eclipse


Watch this video to learn why the solar eclipse is so cool, and educational, and get some great tips for what to look for.

This video shares great information about what to expect during the event with excellent details about what happens, why it happens, and how often this event is seen. 


You can grab free downloads of fun and informative Solar Eclipse posters. There are a wide variety of posters so take your time and find the ones that will best fit your family’s learning and viewing needs. 

Where to View the Solar Eclipse

For this solar eclipse, the path, where the moon will completely cover the sun will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Whether you live in the path, or plan to travel to the path of the solar eclipse this will be an awesome experience for you and your children. 

 If you don’t live within the path of the total solar eclipse, and aren’t able to travel, take heart. You most likely will still be able to view a partial solar eclipse. The projected path shows that the majority of the United States will experience at least a partial solar eclipse during the hours mentioned. 

NASA Live Streaming

NASA is offering a Solar Eclipse Live Streaming Viewing option. They will host an Eclipse Megacast providing unique broadcast coverage across multiple phenomenon programming allowing anyone to experience the phenomenon.


 What to Watch For During the Solar Eclipse

There are phases to a solar eclipse. And the timing of these phases are critical to understanding what you’ll see and when you’ll see it. Use the Interactive Map to determine what times each phase is predicted for different areas of the path. 

Or grab the Solar Eclipse Timer App available in both Google Play Store, and the iTunes App Store.

The moon’s shadow will move from west to east during the event thus making the eclipse move from right to left as you view the event. This animation shows the expected path that the shadow will take.


The Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017 – fly along with the shadow! from Eclipse2017.org on Vimeo.


Get My FREE Solar Eclipse Vocabulary Printable Pack

As a simple way for your kids to learn all the eclipse vocabulary, I’ve created this free printable. By subscribing to the Great Peace Newsletter you can get your free notebooking booklet. Enter your email address, then follow the email prompts which you should receive shortly to verify your subscription, and then you’ll receive instructions on how to find and download your free printable. Are you already a subscriber? Check your email for instructions on how to receive your freebies.

Free Printable Solar Eclipse Vocabulary Pack | Renée at Great Peace #ihsnet #homeschool #science

Contact Times, noted as C1, C2, C3, and C4

  • C1 – The exact moment when the lunar disc touches the solar disc in the sky. . 
  • C2 – The exact moment when the sun can no longer be seen, and the corona looks like a halo around the sun. During this time it is safe to remove your glasses.
  • C3 – The exact moment when the sun peeks out from behind the moon again.
  • C3 – The exact moment when the moon stops covering the sun. 



Credit: Phil Hart, Series of images showing the progress of a total eclipse. The central image of totality was taken by Phil Hart in Australia in 2012.



Partial Phase Phenomenon

  • Lighting Changes leading up to the eclipse
  • Temperature Changes
  • Animals become confused, thinking night is falling
  • Bailey’s Beads –  The effect seen just before and just after totality when only a few points of sunlight are visible through valleys around the edge of the moon.



Credit: Baiiley’s Beads effect taken Dec. 4, 2002. Credit: Arne Danielson.


  • Diamond Ring – The effect seen in the few seconds just before and after totality of a total solar eclipse when there is a single point of sunlight brilliantly shining through a valley on the limb of the moon.
Credit: CC BY 2.0 File:Kubotake – Diamond ring on 22 Jul. 2009 (by).jpg  Created: 22 July 2009
  • Shadow Bands –  Faint ripples of light sometimes seen on flat, light-colored surfaces just before and just after totality. Appearing as wavy lines on the ground, or flat surfaces.

  • Corona -The upper atmosphere of the sun.  It appears as a halo around the sun during a total solar eclipse.

What You’ll Need

You don’t want to look directly at the sun without eye protection because you could hurt your eyes. You’ll want to use special glasses with filtering lenses which make it safe for you to view the eclipse up until totality, and then after totality ends. Or you could view the eclipse using an easy to make pinhole camera. 


Grab Your FREE Solar Eclipse Viewing Notebooking Booklet

By subscribing to the Great Peace Newsletter you can get your free notebooking booklet. Enter your email address, then follow the email prompts which you should receive shortly to verify your subscription, and then you’ll receive instructions on how to find and download your free printable. Are you already a subscriber? Check your email for instructions on how to receive your freebies.

Free Printable Solar Eclipse Observation Booklet | Renée at Great Peace #ihsnet #homeschool #science


Viewing Safety 

  • Before Eclipse begins – Glasses On
  • During Partial Eclipse – Glasses On
  • Bailey’s Beads – Glasses On
  • Diamond Ring – Glasses On
  • Totality – GLASSES OFF
  • Final Stages – Glasses On

15+ Resources for Solar Eclipse Learning

This is a great time to encourage your children in the scientific process. In fact, NASA invites you to join with many other citizen scientists to research, learn, and even join in the documentation process. 

Learning about the solar eclipse doesn’t have to be complicated. You can utilize a wide variety of resources. It can be fun hands-on activities or more research based activities. I’m sharing a wide variety of learning resources for you here.  The British Science Society has some fun activities from their 2015 solar eclispe including an activity guide to use different food to understand what’s going on during the Solar Eclipse.


Solar Eclipse Video Art Lessons

  1. NASA Total Eclipse
  2. About Solar Eclipses – Eva Varga
  3. Solar Eclipse Lapbook – Jimmie’s Collage
  4. Solar System Video Art Course – – You ARE an Artsit, ChalkPastels.com
  5. Total Eclipse of the Sun in 2017! – The Homeschool Scientist
  6. The Ultimate Guide to the Solar Eclipse for Kids – The Learning Hypothesis
  7. Solar Eclipse Printable Worksheets – The Bald Chicks
  8. Solar Eclipse Crafts for Kids – Books & Giggles
  9. Coffee Filter Crafts for Kids: Coffee Filter Solar Eclipse Craft – Look We’re Learning
  10. FREE Guide to the Total Solar Eclipse – Astronomy.com
  11. 25 Facts you should know about the August 21, 2017, Total Solar Eclipse – Astronomy Magazine
  12. Space: Model of Earth & Moon’s orbit (Free download) – More Time 2 Teach at Teacher’s Pay Teachers
  13. Eclipse Across America – Video Series – Curiosity Stream (Subscription Required)
  14. How to Make an Oatmeal Container Pinhole Camera for Eclipses – JDaniel4’s Mom
  15. NASA Total Eclipse – Formal Education
  16. NASA Eclipse Education
  17. American Eclipse USA 
  18. Space Chalk Pastels – You ARE an Artsit, ChalkPastels.com

5 Resources for Throwing a Solar Eclipse Party

What’s more fun than joining together with friends, family, and other homeschoolers for a once in a lifetime solar eclipse viewing party. NASA is making it even easier. You can add your specific details to these pre-made printables to create official invites. But if you’re like me you need to know a little more about it before you jump into planning an event. Kim at The Learning Hypothesis How to Prep for the Eclipse when You Know NOTHING About Space shares some good tips for getting started.

Of course if you are having a party some intriguing musical background is in order. I discovered this Solar Eclipse mp4 over on Amazon and it’s out  of this world. 

Grab some fun gear to make your experience memorable.


Whatever you are doing on August 21, 2017 if you live in the continental United States, you’ll want to set aside some time for this astronomical viewing spectacular. I hope that your family has a fantastic time experiencing this once in a lifetime event. The next solar eclipse in the United States will take place in 2024. 






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