Spotlight on the Sun: Get Geared Up for the August 21 Solar Eclipse

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Time to get geeked out! A total solar eclipse will be passing over the U.S. on Monday, August 21, and it is the perfect opportunity to get the kids excited about science. Although those of us in the Bay Area would have to hit the road to Idaho or Oregon in order to see the eclipse in its totality, the partial eclipse that we can see here will definitely be something worth watching (with the proper eye protection, of course). Lots of local libraries and science centers have programs to get families geared up to safely participate in the big day. Find one near you!

photo: skeeze via Pixabay

San Francisco

The Exploritorium will open early for the big day at 9 a.m. to gather all solar geeks for a live broadcast of the eclipse across the U.S. The museum’s live-stream team will travel to two sites—Madras, Oregon, and Caspar, Wyoming—to capture the “Great American Eclipse,” which will cross the country in a narrow swath from Oregon to South Carolina. Learn about solar eclipses and observe a partial solar eclipse outside on the Exploratorium’s Plaza. Can’t make it to the museum? Watch the live telescope feed here.

Cost: adults $29.95, kids $19.95, 3 and under free (includes museum admission)
Purchase tickets:

California Academy of Sciences
There is some evidence that plant and animal life behaves differently during a solar eclipse. Will birds stop singing? Will dogs hide under the bed? The Cal Academy of Sciences welcomes all citizen scientists to participate in observing animals during the eclipse and providing those observations via the iNaturalist app. Read more about this program here.

San Francisco Public Libraries
The SF Public Libraries are offering two events – one to gear up for the big day and one to view it live.

Join Andrew Fraknoi, chair of the astronomy department at Foothill College, as he describes how eclipses work, why they are one of nature’s most spectacular sights, what scientists learn during eclipses, exactly when and where the eclipse of 2017 will be visible, and how to observe the eclipse and the sun safely. Free eclipse viewing glasses will be given out.

Date: Sunday, August 6, 1-3 p.m.
Location: Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco

Come celebrate the solar eclipse at the Ortega Branch Library at a hybrid Eclipse viewing and storytime. View the eclipse in the courtyard, pop into storytime from 10:30-11 a.m. if you have a toddler, then go back outside to see how it’s progressed.

Date: Monday, August 21, 10-11:30 a.m.
Location: Ortega Branch Library, 3223 Ortega Street, San Francisco

photo: Charlie Fleselman via flickr

South Bay/Peninsula

Fujitsu Planetarium – Cupertino
On Saturday, August 5 and 12, the Fujitsu Planetarium will be playing “Totality” – a show about the wonder of eclipses, especially solar eclipses. Learn what they are, how and when they occur and what beauty they create. This is the perfect preview to the big day.

Cost: $9/person

Los Gatos Library
David Lawson of the Eastbay Astronmical Society will talk about eclipses and the importance of the total solar eclipse. Free eclipse viewing glasses will be given out.

Date: Saturday, August 12, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Santa Clara County Libraries – In addition to story times and viewing parties at a number of libraries (search “eclipse” here to see them all), you can take advantage of these discussions by scientists to get the kids excited for the big event.

Come for this family-friendly discussion of the size and scale of our solar system, and the Sun-Earth-Moon relationship that gives us an eclipse. Learn why eclipses don’t happen every month, safe viewing practices and observing the phases of the moon. Viewing glasses available.

Location: Los Altos Library, 13 S. San Antonio Road
Date: Thursday, August 3, 7-8:30 p.m.

Have you ever wondered what celestial objects you can see from your backyard in our light-polluted skies? NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Eric Norris will explain what you can see, the types of telescopes and other viewing aids to use and give some suggestions for your first objects. Eric will also discuss the upcoming solar eclipse and how you can safely view the sun.

Location: Saratoga Library, 13650 Saratoga Ave.
Date: Sunday, August 8, 7-8 p.m.

NASA scientist Elizabeth Keller will discuss what causes an eclipse, why this one is special, and how to view it safely. There will be a craft for children to take home after the program.

Location: Saratoga Library, 13650 Saratoga Ave.
Date: Sunday, August 13, 2-2:45 p.m.

San Jose Public Libraries
Two libraries are hosting workshops to prepare you for eclipse day. Learn from the San Jose Astronomical Association what happens during an eclipse as well as safe viewing practices. Pick up an eclipse viewing kit.

Location: Joyce Ellington Branch Library, 491 E. Empire Street
Date: Saturday, August 5, 2-4 p.m.

Location: Bascom Branch Library, 1000 S. Bascom Ave.
Date: Saturday, August 12, 2-4 p.m.

photo: David Palieno via flickr

East Bay

Chabot Space and Science Center – Berkeley
The Chabot is hosting a partial solar eclipse viewing party on the big day starting at 9 a.m. Expert astronomers will be on-hand explaining the phenomenon. See a live feed of the total eclipse and learn all about solar eclipses with hands-on demonstrations and activities. The eclipse peaks around 11:20 a.m. so plan your visit to be there around that time.

Cost: Free

Castro Valley Library
Gather with other eclipse viewers from 9 a.m. – noon on the big day. The library won’t be open but you can head to the parking lot to use the solar glasses that will be handed out.

Location: 3600 Northbridge Ave., Castro Valley

Central Library – Berkeley
Astronomer Andrew Fraknoi will describe how eclipses work, why they are one of nature’s most spectacular sights, what scientists learn during eclipses, exactly when and where the eclipse of 2017 will be visible, and how to observe the eclipse and the Sun safely.

Date: Saturday, August 5, 2-4 p.m.
Location: 2090 Kittridge Street, Berkeley

Alameda Free Library
Starting on August 1, eclipse glasses are available to pick up at the library for anyone in the community. Gather at the library on August 21 with other eclipse viewers to see the big event.

Location: 2263 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda

Oakland Main Library
The Main Library at 9:30 a.m. is the place to be on the big day for the viewing of this event and to share you excitement with other science enthusiasts.

Location: 125 14th Street, Oakland

Where are you going to view the August 21st eclipse? Let us know in the comments!

–Kate Loweth

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