As we all might imagine, astronomy isn’t meant to be learned exclusively inside a classroom. The upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21st is a great opportunity to get even the youngest of your kids to enjoy a great learning experience. This activity has been designed as a great way to get younger children (ages 3 – 10) actively involved with the upcoming total solar eclipse!
A little bit of background first… as it turns out we don’t know everything about our own star in this quiet corner of the Milky Way galaxy – the Sun. What do we know? The Sun is made up of different layers:
- the innermost being the core (where hydrogen atoms fuse together to create helium, otherwise known as nuclear fusion)
- the outermost surface layer being the photosphere (the part we can see with our safe solar viewing glasses)
- the outer atmosphere – which we call the corona (“corona” is a Latin word meaning “crown”).
The Sun’s corona happens to be one of the most elusive objects in our solar system. As it turns out, the only time you can see it is during totality of a total solar eclipse. Why? The Sun’s photosphere is much brighter than the corona and continuously outshines it. Once the moon completely blocks out the bright photosphere of the Sun, only then can you see the majestic corona with the naked eye, but only for a couple of minutes.
- Dark blue or black construction paper
- A laminated cutout of the Moon (or a traceable circular object like a CD)
- White chalk
- Hairspray (optional)
- Place the Moon cutout (or circular object) at the center of the piece of construction paper.
- Trace around the Moon with white chalk – make sure to go around more than once to get a thick traced out circle on the paper.
- Use your fingers to smudge the chalk towards the outside of the circle.
- Don’t forget to add a “save the date” reminder on your drawing!
- Optional: If you don’t want the chalk to make a mess on the paper, spray it with hairspray to keep the chalk in place.