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It’s Total Eclipse Time!

Get your Moon Pies ready, Memphis--it's total eclipse time, and it's a show you do not want to miss!

On Monday, April 8th at approximately 1:56pm, Memphis will be in 98% totality of a solar eclipse. What does this mean, exactly? According to NASA, "a solar eclipse happens when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow on Earth that either fully or partially blocks the Sun's light in some areas." If you're more visual, this video is a pretty comprehensive overview. And if apps are more your thing, try this free Totality app.

total eclipse
The Great American Eclipse. com is another great resource

While the sun will not be fully blocked in Memphis, we'll be pretty darn close. The actual path of totality (the region that will experience that full blockage) cuts a diagonal path through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and further north, meaning that it only requires a short road trip to experience this phenomenon in its full potential. Most folks making the trek already have plans to camp or attend events (Hot Springs, Arkansas is hosting a huge multi-day music and science fest), but finding an empty field somewhere will also allow some amazing views. If you do decide to travel, be aware that traffic could get heavy in spots. 

total eclipse time with Hot Springs being right in the middle
https://hotsprings.org/media-room/press-releases/hot-springs-national-park-one-of-only-two-such-parks-in-u.s-to-be-in-path-of-totality-for-eclipse-of-the-sun-in-april-2024/

But if you can't get away, I'd still encourage you to take advantage of this amazing opportunity to be so close. My kids and I attended a presentation at the library in which we learned that you could wait 360 years for an eclipse to come to you...how lucky are we that we can see (most of) it from here!

First, Get the Glasses!

However you choose to observe the eclipse, the #1 rule is DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN! You will burn your eyes and potentially cause permanent damage.

Special eclipse glasses (that resemble 3D glasses) are needed for viewing the eclipse! You cannot just use regular old sunglasses. FUN FACT : These glasses are made right here in Bartlett TN by American Paper Optics! Readily available at places like MoSH, the Memphis Botanic Gardens, Pigtails and Crewcuts, and even the Cooper Young Community Association office in Midtown, there's many local places to buy them. The Memphis Libraries are also giving away glasses for free (first come, first served)!

safe glasses

total eclipse
You'll see this tent all week!

There's also a POP UP tent in the parking lot in front of Oak Court Mall, right on Poplar. Not only are they selling the special glasses, but you can also buy memory books, story books, and even special films to put over smart phones so you can take pictures of the entire eclipse! (AND they take cash, card, or Venmo!). 

total eclipse
The Solar Snap phone app looks really cool!

You can also purchase the glasses at Kroger or through an online retailer, but it's more fun to keep things local.

Pro tip: Don't toss your glasses after the eclipse as they might come in handy for future events. I took this photo of the October partial eclipse using glasses I'd saved from the 2017 event.

the partial eclipse a few years ago through my glasses

Plan your Experience!

If you are in town and would like to experience the eclipse with others, the University of Memphis Physics Department will be hosting an event on campus that day with a telescope set up for students and visitors to safely view the sun. Speaking of the UofM, my family also learned at the library that there is a scale model of the solar system on campus. While not directly related to the eclipse, the Memphis Voyage Solar System Scale Model is definitely something we want to check out. Tours can be scheduled with Physics faculty or you can take a self-guided tour.

Another opportunity to learn more about total eclipse time will take place the weekend of April 6-7 at MoSH. The Eclipse Preview Weekend will feature a variety of family-friendly events to learn more about the eclipse with planetarium shows, hands-on activities, and more.

Or head to the Memphis Botanic Garden! Bring a blanket & a picnic and spread out on our Great Lawn for a fun afternoon. Children can plant a moonflower or sunflower to take home. Eclipse glasses are available to purchase in their gift shop.

The local map

 

Extra-added FUN!

Hopefully your child(ren)'s school will participate in this historic event. Since total eclipse time is scheduled to occur during the school day, be sure to ask if and how your school will be observing the eclipse. If your school isn't able to provide eclipse glasses to students, there are other ways to see it safely. The simplest way is to just poke a hole through a sheet of paper--an index card would be even better--and hold it up. Then, look down at the ground to see the shadow. Holding up a colander or even standing under a leafy tree has the same effect.

If you homeschool or have littles at home, this site has several (easy-sounding) crafts for hands-on learning. These would also be good if you feel the need to justify taking your kids out of school for the day (or two). Here's a link found on Pinterest to make epic glow-in-the-dark eclipse t-shirts!

eclipse

Honestly, maybe the snacks to celebrate the eclipse are some of the best things about this year's event! Stock up on Moon Pies (chocolate & banana!), Star Crunch cookies, MilkyWay candy bars, Starburst candies, Sun Chips, Lesser Evil Space Balls puff snacks, and of course Eclipse Gum! Various party outlets have space-themed plates and napkins too to really help get in the mood! 

eclipse snacks

So, turn around, Bright Eyes. I hope you're ready for a total eclipse of the heart sun.

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