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Students prepare for solar eclipse
Students prepare for solar eclipse
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools
Friday, August 18, 2017

HOPE – Students in the Hope Public Schools are in eclipse mode as they prepare for an event which will not reoccur until 2024 as the sun goes into eclipse across the continental United States on Monday.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) predicts that the eclipse window across the U.S. will be from approximately 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. as the moon’s orbit around the Earth tracks it across the face of the sun and its shadow falls across the Earth from Oregon to South Carolina.

“Over the course of 100 minutes, 14 states across the United States will experience more than two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day,” NASA’s website states. “Additionally, a partial eclipse will be viewable across all of North America.”

The maximum eclipse window for Hope will occur from 12:02:48 p.m. Central Time to 2:48:35 p.m. CT Monday.

Hope will be in what is known as the “penumbra,” or secondary influence of the moon’s shadow as it falls across the Earth. Hope students can expect to see about 80 percent of the total eclipse effect, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website.

NASA and NOAA both warn students and adults not to look directly at the sun during the eclipse, but recommend the use of ISO 12312-2 rated viewing glasses which may be purchased specifically for the eclipse.

“Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (‘totality’), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality,” NASA’s website states.

Since Hope is not within the “totality,” students in the Hope Public Schools will use precautions to prevent eye damage while viewing the eclipse.

Most Clinton Primary School classes will view the eclipse using viewing boxes which create a shadow effect from a hole punched in the side of a cardboard box that is held toward the sun and the eclipse effect is seen inside the box.

Other “pinhole” projection methods are easily available, according to NASA.

“Create pinhole projections with your fingers; cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other,” NASA’s website states. “With your back to the sun, look at your hands; shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse.”

Trees can also be used to provide the same effect.

“Layers of leaves and branches tend to create thousands of little pinholes allowing sunlight to pass through to the ground,” NASA said. “During the partial phase of an eclipse, those projected circles of light actually turn into thousands of projected images of the eclipse.”

While the weather forecast for Hope on Monday calls for mostly sunny skies with a high temperature of 92 degrees, not everyone will be outside during the eclipse.

“We will have discussions in our classes and students and staff will have the opportunity to watch the eclipse in their classrooms,” Beryl Henry Elementary School Principal Dr. Roy Turner said.

NASA will provide a live video stream of the eclipse beginning with an Eclipse Preview Show from Charleston, S.C., at 11 a.m. CT. The eclipse event, “Solar Eclipse: Through the Eyes of NASA”, will be live streamed at Noon CT via NASA Television online.

Yerger Middle School students have been preparing all week for the event, according to Latonya Bradley, YMS science teacher.

“Students have been learning about solar and lunar eclipses this week in preparation for viewing of the solar eclipse on Aug. 21,” Bradley said. “Science teachers have been showing videos to help teach students how to view the solar eclipse safely.”

She said YMS students have also been making their own box viewers using cereal boxes.

Students at Hope Academy of Public Service have tracked the eclipse path as it affects Hope at online, according to HAPS science teacher Carol Hendrix.

“We have solar glasses for each student and faculty member,” Hendrix said. “The students should have their glasses with them during 6th and 7th periods. It is very important for everyone to wear their glasses from lunch to 2 p.m. if they are trying to look at the sun.”

She said the semi-darkness of the eclipse period is not safe.

“We will be in some state of semi-darkness during that time, and the students may think it would be okay to look at the sun with their naked eyes,” Hendrix said. “Please insist they wear the glasses if they go outside.”

She said viewing boxes will also be provided on the sidewalk in front of the HAPS building on the Garland campus Monday.

Eclipses which fall across continental land masses on Earth are rare, although eclipses occur with some regularity, according to NASA.

“The Babylonian eclipse on May 3, 1375 BCE is the oldest successfully predicted and recorded in the western world,” the agency’s website states.