We’re very excited about the once-in-a-lifetime celestial event that our students and staff will be able to experience next Monday, August 21. We are very fortunate that Franklin and Simpson County is in a sweet spot relative to totality of the eclipse. We believe this experience is in our sweet spot as an educational organization as well.
We must ensure that everyone involved has a safe experience. All students and staff will be provided NASA approved viewing glasses sponsored by Western Kentucky University. Parents of students and immediate family of our staff are welcome to join us to share the experience with us. All schools will have check-in procedures for these folks. We do not plan to accept other visitors that day.
Our decision to have school on this day was also influenced by the fact that many of our students’ parents will be working. Therefore, having an instructional day during this event provides our kids with a safe environment, breakfast and lunch, and proper instruction on safely experiencing the eclipse. A Solar Eclipse Viewing Consent Form must be completed by parents and/or guardians for any student wanting to view the eclipse outside. The form should be returned to homeroom teachers by Thursday, August 17th so that there is time to confirm that forms have been received on all students participating and allow time for any needed follow-up. Other visitors will need to sign a Solar Eclipse Viewing Consent Form as well.
Our biggest concern is the afternoon commute since we have no real way of knowing the traffic conditions that will exist. Normal dismissal schedules will be followed unless the traffic prevents it. We are anticipating a longer than normal commute home for everyone. The School Reach Notification system will be used to keep parents and staff updated if needed. We will provide everyone with a snack at the end of the school day and a bottle of water upon dismissal for the afternoon ride home. It’s important that bellies are full and students stay hydrated if the commute does take longer than normal.
Although safety and the educational experience from this event is of the utmost importance, I also don’t want us to overlook the importance of having fun! The upcoming eclipse is an event that we’ll remember for a lifetime. Let’s lead everyone to embrace this unique opportunity!
Science Resource Teacher Matt Staggs has provided many resources for the event – click this link to access it: https://sites.google.com/simpson.kyschools.us/exploratorium/resources/2017-solar-eclipse
Here are some additional resources:
A solar eclipse will be visible across Kentucky and throughout all of North America on Aug. 21. The moon will pass between the sun and earth and block all or part of the sun for up to about three hours.
A total solar eclipse – the first seen in Kentucky since 1869 – will be visible in parts of 25 counties in western and south-central Kentucky. All of Kentucky will see at least 90 percent of the sun obscured by the moon.
Within the path of totality, a band about 70 miles wide stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, the moon will completely cover the sun for less than three minutes and the sun’s atmosphere – the corona – can be seen. The sky will grow dark (except for a glow of orange around the horizon) and stars and up to four planets will be visible. The temperature may drop 10 or more degrees, and animals will behave as if night has arrived.
Outside the path of totality, the moon will cover most of the sun. It will appear as if the moon has taken a bite out of the sun, and the light will be similar to that seen at dusk.
It is NEVER safe to look directly at the sun without appropriate protection. You could severely injure your eyes or even go blind. However, there are ways to safely view an eclipse directly:
- Anyone planning to view the solar eclipse should get a pair of eclipse viewing glasses, which make it possible for observers to look directly at the sun during a partial eclipse. Glasses should be obtained and should be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard and should be obtained from reputable vendors approved by NASA and the American Astronomical Society.
- If you normally wear eyeglasses, eclipse glasses should be worn over your glasses.
- Regular sunglasses – no matter how dark – and homemade filters do not provide sufficient protection.
- Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device.
- Do not put on or remove eclipse glasses while looking at the sun. Turn your head first.
- It is not safe to look at the sun without protection except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse, which will only happen within the narrow path of totality. If you are in the path of totality, you won’t be able to see anything through eclipse glasses during the brief period of totality. However, as soon as beads of light begin to reappear as the edge of the sun emerges, you should avert your eyes and put your eclipse glasses back on.
Take every precaution necessary. You can safely view the eclipse, but it is critical to protect your eyes and the eyes of those for whom you have direct responsibility from the sun.
You can also view the partial eclipse indirectly through pinhole projection in which sunlight passes through a small opening (such as a hole in an index card or even the space between your fingers with one hand laid over the other), through a solar viewing projector or through a sun funnel attached to a telescope.
Visit this page on NASA’s website for more information on safely viewing the eclipse. In addition, visit these pages for information on the eclipse itself: