Solar Eclipse Provides Unique Science Learning

Aug. 21 hosts one very rare event – the solar eclipse.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon aligns just right between the Earth and the sun, blocking most of the sun from view.

For Stephen Ramsden, this is significant event.

“To our knowledge this is the only place in the entire universe where this coincidence (a solar eclipse) is known to occur. Our sun will be exactly blocked by our moon, even though they are vastly different sizes and enormously different distances from us sentient beings here on Earth.

“It’s a big deal,” he said.

Ramsden is director of the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project, the largest and oldest solar astronomy outreach program in the world, he said. He and his team helps children in middle school around the world get interested in science.

“We want to help them rediscover how wonderful the solar system and the universe around them is,” he said.

This specific eclipse will be possible to see from just about anywhere in North America. According to NASA, will actually happen at 2:35:45 p.m. and last for less than three minutes.

The last time a solar eclipse traversed most of the continental US was nearly a century ago – 1918. If you miss the eclipse this time, don’t worry. The next one to cross the continent will come as early as 2045.

Ramsden said he is excited to see the Aug. 21 eclipse.

“A solar eclipse is the epitome of free science and I hope everyone gets a chance to view it,” he said.

It should go without saying, do not look directly at the sun or the eclipse without special glasses or equipment, such as a pinhole projector. This equipment will likely be available at viewing parties or events around the country.

While the eclipse will be visible from just about anywhere, one good local place to view it is at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. As a site dedicated to learning about the natural world around us, CNC knows that looking up at the sky is just as important as looking down at the ground.

Sets of eclipse-viewing glasses will be handed out by Ramsden and the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project.

For good activities as well as more on the science behind eclipses, visit NASA’s website. The Chattahoochee Nature Center can be found online or at 9135 Willeo Rd., Roswell.

For more about Stephen Ramsden and the Charlie Bates Solar Astronomy Project, visit his website here

The Mission of the Chattahoochee Nature Center is to connect people with nature.