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Next month, on April 8, families across North America will have the chance to witness a total solar eclipse! This exciting phenomenon is a great opportunity for teaching children about the wonders of space and astronomy.

Eclipse Excitement

What exactly happens during these rare occurrences?

A solar eclipse happens when the moon comes between the Earth and the sun, making it look like the sun is temporarily covered. It’s like the moon is doing a little dance in front of the sun, blocking its light for a short time. During a solar eclipse, the day may get darker for a little while as the moon moves across the sun. Remember, it’s important to use special glasses or indirect viewing methods to safely watch a solar eclipse and protect both child and adult eyes from the bright sunlight.

To see what the eclipse will look like from your city, check out the Eclipse 2024 simulator here!

Step-by-Step Stargazing

Stargazing is a simple and rewarding way to explore the night sky with little ones at any time of year. Keep up the cosmic curiosity year-round with these tips:

  • For family stargazing, prepare a cozy spot with plenty of blankets, jackets, and snacks to ensure everybody is warm and comfortable. Themed snacks can make the experience extra fun!
  • For the best views, plan on stargazing on clear dark nights in a place away from any lights or busy streets.
  • Give your eyes about thirty minutes to adjust to the darkness.
  • A sky map can help you to identify what you’re viewing. Challenge your kids to find constellations or specific planets!
  • A flashlight, compass, and binoculars (or a telescope) are all useful for navigating and seeing the sky more clearly.
  • Don’t forget a notebook for writing down or sketching observations! Compare notes and keep track of trends you notice.
  • Research space findings as a family! Reputable science sources, like Ducksters, NASA, and Britannica Kids, offer a wide variety of astronomy content to inform and inspire.