A Family Guide to Enjoying the 2024 Solar Eclipse

This coming Monday, April 8th, 2024, the sky will offer a spectacular celestial show as a total solar eclipse graces our planet. This awe-inspiring event provides a perfect opportunity for families to bond and explore the wonders of the universe together. For parents with little ones, this eclipse can be an educational and unforgettable experience. In this guide, we'll delve into what the April 8th eclipse is all about and share some fun and educational activities to engage young minds.



Eclipse Pathway

1. Texas: The eclipse enters the United States through Texas! If you live near cities like Dallas and Austin then you are barely outside the path of totality. Maverick and Webb counties will experience the fullness of the eclipse.

2. Arkansas: Little rock will be getting full totality for just under three minutes just after 1:50 PM.

3. Missouri: St. Louis is right on the path’s edge, but if you are near northern and central parts of the state, like Kansas City, then you will be seeing something spectacular on Monday.

4. Illinois: Carbondale, which experienced totality during the 2017 eclipse, will once again be a prime location.

5. Indiana: Bloomington will see about four minutes of totality at 3:04pm.

6. Ohio: Cities like Cleveland and Toledo are situated for a perfect view.

7. New York: Upstate New York, and in particular Rochester and Syracuse, will be right in the path of totality.

To learn more about the eclipse pathway and look at the maps you can visit the NASA website.



Understanding the Eclipse:

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, casting its shadow on our planet. During a total solar eclipse, the moon completely blocks the Sun, turning daylight into twilight for a few brief minutes. This breathtaking event does not take place often! With the pathway hitting straight across America it is a great opportunity U.S. families to experience it together.



Safe Viewing Practices for the 2024 Solar Eclipse

We cannot stress enough the importance of taking safety precautions for this event with your children. Especially since this 2024 solar eclipse is going to be different than other eclipses! For a simplified list of things to remember use this checklist:


Totality is the moment when the Sun is completely blocked by the Moon. Partial totality is all the time during the day before that happens and after. The only time and place it is safe to view the eclipse is the brief minutes when the moon is completely blocking the sun, and if you are in the eclipses direct pathway. Outside of that, the sun should not be viewed directly or without the proper safety equipment. 

2. There is specific eye protection needed to view partial totality 

"Viewing any part of the bright Sun through a camera lens, binoculars, or a telescope without a special-purpose solar filter secured over the front of the optics will instantly cause severe eye injury." - NASA

Sunglasses are not going to cut it for this one!

3. When totality ends return to your partial totality safety measures

"As soon as you see even a little bit of the bright Sun reappear after totality, immediately put your eclipse glasses back on or use a handheld solar viewer to look at the Sun." - NASA

For more details safety equipment and explanations on how to enjoy the eclipse safely checkout these safety guidelines from NASA!



Teaching Kids About the Eclipse


Create Eclipse Models

Engage your little astronomers by creating simple models to illustrate how an eclipse occurs. Grab a flashlight and start a puppet show! You can use any object to block the light just like the Moon. Craft models out of molding clay, paper, or even yummy snacks and demonstrate the movement of the eclipse, then let your little one try. 




Explore books and online resources about eclipses tailored for children. Here are some examples:

“Eclipse,” by Andy Rash

"Total Solar Eclipse: A Stellar Friendship Story," by Jayme Sandberg 

"A Few Beautiful Minutes: Experiencing a Solar Eclipse," by Kate Allen Fox

Learn about the history of eclipses, fascinating facts, and stories together. Ignite their curiosity about the cosmos.


Outdoor Observation

Set up a cozy viewing spot outdoors and encourage your kids to observe the eclipse firsthand. Please do so following the safety guidelines outlines by NASA and other expert sources. Use a telescope or binoculars with solar filters to enhance their experience and spot phenomena like the solar corona.



Artistic Exploration

Channel your child's creativity by inviting them to create eclipse-themed artwork. From drawings and paintings to homemade crafts, let their imagination soar as they express their impressions of the eclipse.



Scientific Experiments

Conduct simple experiments to explore the science behind eclipses. Demonstrate how shadows change during an eclipse or simulate the moon's orbit using household objects. Pull out a map of the U.S. and draw the path together! You can even look up the history of eclipses and compare them side by side!


Virtual Exploration

If you're unable to witness the eclipse in person, take advantage of live streams and virtual events hosted by observatories and educational institutions. Gather around the computer or smart device to watch the celestial spectacle unfold in real-time.

The April 8th solar eclipse offers a unique opportunity for families to come together and embark on a journey of discovery. By engaging in educational activities and fostering a sense of wonder, parents can instill a lifelong love of science and astronomy in their little ones. So mark your calendars, prepare your viewing gear, and get ready to witness the magic of the cosmos with your family by your side.