Experiencing the Great American Eclipse

Monday, 21 August 2017. LCA students view the eclipse, three ways.

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 treated our students to an outdoor experience, a rare optical treat, and an appreciation of the Solar System. Students came out in groups, about 6 times each, to watch the coverage of the Sun by the Moon progress from just a sliver to 75% and back to a sliver, over the time from 10:14 MDT to 12:30 MDT. They drew the stages and looked in wonder at it all.

Our teachers prepared them for the view and gave them a lot of background on how the Sun, Moon, and Earth move to create an eclipse: Arielle Lane in early K-K, Dr. Lou Ellen Kay in science classes for grades 1-2 and 3-5, and Dr. Vince Gutschick for grades 6-8. For an intrinsically safe way to see the eclipse, Vince affixed a telescope finder scope to a camera tripod and projected the Sun’s much enlarged image onto a foamboard. Lou Ellen, and some other teachers, obtained about 40 safe viewing glasses from NMSU Astronomy and other sources; they taught the students how to take great care in using the glasses, never to view the Sun without them.

A third safe way was very beautiful: students looked at the sunlight coming through small gaps in the leafy canopy of two ornamental plum trees. The gaps acted as hundreds of pinhole cameras, casting hundreds of crescent sun shapes onto the pavement.

The following day, Lou Ellen reviewed the eclipse.  She showed a collage of images of different stages of the eclipse, created by LCA parent Aaron Brasher – that’s what’s on the TV screen we use for A/V presentations.