There will be solar eclipse festivals, events and parties in locations all along this path, so look up events that may be close to you. Even if you are not within the solar eclipse totality zone, you will still get to witness a partial eclipse which is just as breath taking. Because of the rotations of the moon around the sun, their exact alignment is rare so you don’t want to miss catching even a small glimpse.
Mark your calendars for August 21st, 2017 because this is an event you will not want to miss. It will definitely be an experience you will want to share with your kids. Check out the solar eclipse viewing tips below to make it an enjoyable and memorable time for the whole family.
1. Solar Eclipse Safety
The most important thing to remember is that you will be looking at the sun. Regardless of the fact that the moon will be covering it, is still very dangerous and can cause serious eye damage. You want to have special sunglasses for each member of the family and be sure they are ISO-certified. Over 4800 libraries across the country are giving away free solar sunglasses. There are over 2 million pairs being handed out, so stop by your local library to get them. Make sure the sunglasses fit to your child’s head securely.
2. Solar Eclipse Preparedness
The sun may be covered but it still emits UV radiation so make sure you have sunblock and appropriate clothing or head wear to prevent sunburn. Also it is worth noting that during totality, the sun’s coverage causes temperatures to drop, so bring warm clothes and blankets in case it gets too cool for the kids.
3. Solar Eclipse Supplies
Even though the eclipse itself does not last long, it may be an all day event. Depending on your location you may need to travel to a good spot or get their early to secure a good viewing position. Either way it is a good idea to bring snacks and plenty of water. It may get dark, but it is still summertime, so you don’t want anyone getting dehydrated.
4. Solar Eclipse Planning
If you have to travel be aware that you are not the only one planning to go. Roadways and towns will be significantly more crowded than usual. Know exactly where you want to go ahead of time and plan routes accordingly. Leave early, expect traffic, and frequently check your local Department of Transportation updates. Bring entertainment in the car for the kids, since the journey may be longer than their attention spans.
5. Solar Eclipse Events
The coming of the solar eclipse has been known for a while so many people have organized events, parties and viewing spots in advance. If you do not have a destination in mind, it is worth looking into these parties, because they will offer good viewing as well as entertainment, food and activities.
6. Recording the Solar Eclipse
You will want to document the occasion as a unique family experience. Consider not just taking pictures but really recording it as it happens. Record a video and discuss what is happening with your kids. Describe the details and let them provide their own fun narration. The more involved they are the more they will enjoy it and have something fun to watch later.
7. Solar Eclipse Equipment
For any recording or photography make sure to check everything before you leave. Test all cameras and video recorders a few days in advance to make sure everything is working properly. The last thing you want is to try to take a picture and your camera is broken. You also want to get a special solar eclipse filter for your camera, because your eyes can get damaged looking at the sun through the lens also. You can purchase solar lens caps or simply stick solar filter film securely to the lens with tape.
8. Solar Eclipse Backup Plan
As this will be an event you do not want to miss, be sure to bring extra batteries for cameras if needed. For phones and recorders, make sure they are fully charged the night before. Double check you have the memory cards or sticks and that they have enough memory space to capture everything.
9. Solar Eclipse Photography
For the real photographers in the family, you may want to consider getting a tripod. Because the moon will be moving across the sky there will be various phases to capture. This can be difficult if you constantly need to readjust focus. Having a tripod makes this easier and allows you to be hands free. Let your kids get involved, letting them be photographic journalists for the day.
10. Solar Eclipse & Smartphones
If you don’t have access to a camera (not surprising now that phones can do everything) you can take pictures and videos with your phone just as easily. Be sure to get a solar filter for eye protection and use a long lens so you don’t have to crop photos later. You may want to also look into a teleconverter so you can increase your focal length.
11. Being in the Solar Eclipse Moment
While the length of totality will vary depending on your location, the important thing to remember is that he event does not last long. It is actually much shorter than you think, so make your kids aware that it is only about two minutes long. Express to them the importance of seeing an event like this and make sure you are all focused. Remove all distractions like food, toys and music so your kids can really focus and enjoy. They will thank you for it later.
12. Making the Solar Eclipse Educational
With kids involved, you want to make the eclipse fun and most importantly, educational. Explain that the last one was 99 years ago so they fully understand the uniqueness of this event. Plan related activities to get them involved, such as trivia quizzes. Plan an art project with them ahead of time and let them paint, draw or re-create the eclipse in whatever artistic method they choose.Your kids will definitely enjoy the total solar eclipse as much as you if it is fun and they can learn something. Plan ahead so things run smoothly, be safe and be prepared. Total solar eclipses are not just for scientists and photographers, you can make this a treasured family experience, too.
Jennifer Fontaine is the founder of Outdoor Families Magazine, publisher of MommyHiker.com, a blog to encourage outdoor activities with children, and an activist filmmaker inspiring dynamic change in the world. She lives in Southern California with her family.