How to Safely Watch the Solar Eclipse With Your Kids

On August 21st, all of North America will experience one of the solar system’s most remarkable events: a solar eclipse. Even though solar eclipses happen every eighteen months or so, there hasn’t been one visible in the contiguous United States since 1979. The path of totality might be narrow, but everyone on the US mainland should be able to see at least a partial eclipse (barring crap weather, of course). Besides being a really cool thing to witness, the solar eclipse will also be a legit learning opportunity for our kids. Here are just a few ways you can enjoy the solar eclipse with your kids.

1. Find solar eclipse glasses

First, sit down your little grasshoppers and make sure they fully understand how dangerous it is to look directly at the sun without a solar filter. People have literally gone blind from it. Don’t do it! Special-purpose solar filters, which are usually sold as glasses or hand-held cards, effectively block 99.99% of the sun’s rays. The American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable vendors selling solar filters and glasses. Many public libraries will also have glasses and solar viewers. Eclipse glasses are selling like hotcakes, so get yours ASAP.

2. Get crafty

If you can’t get your hands on eclipse glasses, you’re not S.O.L. Channel your inner Pinterest mom and make pinhole cameras with your kids. They’re easy to put together, and the construction will occupy your kids for a good five to seven minutes.

3. Watch a livestream

The safest way to experience the eclipse will be via television or an online stream. If you’re not in the path of totality, a livestream is the next-best thing. Time Magazine put together a livestream resource, and NASA TV will have four solid hours of coverage.

4. Read up

There’s no shortage of eclipse material online, but the website NASA created especially for the 2017 eclipse is the best, hands-down. It will answer every question your curious children can possibly think of, while providing a plethora of resources and age-appropriate activities. Their free downloadable activity guide is worth its weight in gold.

Do you have anything special planned for the eclipse? Let us know in the comments!

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(Image: iStock / warioman)

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