Discussing the Solar Eclipse in the Early Years

Americans last saw a total solar eclipse two decades ago. This Monday, on August 21, 2017, we will be able to see a solar eclipse for the first time in decades. This is also the first solar eclipse to move from coast to coast since 1918.

The eclipse is an ideal time to engage your child about the solar system and inspire awe in our universe. The eclipse will occur between 11:46 – 2:45 PM Central. The maximum eclipse is visible around 1:16 PM  Central.  In Houston, at 1:16 PM, we will be able to see a Partial Solar Eclipse. This is not the same as the total solar eclipse, which will be seen across 14 other states.

Below are our favorite resources to help guide a conversation with your child about the eclipse:

  • Explaining the Eclipse

We recommend discussing an eclipse with children who understand that (1) the earth is a planet composed of land and water (2) a moon revolves around the earth and (3) a shadow is formed when an object blocks light. Here are some fun songs and visuals to guide your discussion of the eclipse:

From 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM, enjoy the Solar Eclipse Viewing Party at the Children’s Museum of Houston.  Children can take part in various museum activities, including a “Pinhole Viewer Workshop” ($5.00) and enjoy special activities exploring the solar system.

Watch the solar eclipse from the comfort of your own home (without the special glasses!).

Safety first. Don’t forget to use special glasses when viewing the eclipse. Don’t have the glasses? No worries! Make some!

Never photograph the eclipse when the Moon is directly covering the sun without safety precautions.

The Burke Baker Planetarium will offer a special schedule featuring six 15 minute shows about the eclipse. These will run at 12:00, 12:20, 12:40, 1:00, 1:20, and 1:40, and tickets will be $4. The 2:00 show is a special Starry Night Express featuring a live feed from Casper, Wyoming, with Museum staff in the path of totality.

Photo © NASA