Are you ready for the 2017 Solar Eclipse?  The eclipse is a big deal and like me you might be wondering why and what to do about it. Today I even noticed that my grocery store is selling t-shirts and other memorabilia. What is all of this craze about??  The last total eclipse visible from the United States was in 1979 and the next solar eclipse viewable from the US won’t be until 2045!  That is why August 21st, 2017 is such a big deal!

People watching solar eclipse

We have big plans to play a little hooky from school and head north.  My friend and I think this is a chance of a lifetime and we don’t want our girls to miss it. I polled quite a few of my teacher friends (from elementary through collegiate professors) and they all told me that taking my daughter out of school, in order to view the total eclipse, would not be a wasted day.  They also assured me that she can make up whatever lessons she (and the 100’s of other absent kids) will miss that day!  Luckily for us we live about one hour south of the total viewing path.  Our city will be able to see about a 93% eclipse but, when we are already so close….road trip!  We will be packing up the car with a cooler full of snacks, our special viewing glasses, and a tailor-made play list that will of course feature Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”  That song in itself will be part of my girls’ education plan!

solar eclipse diagram

What is the Solar Eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between the Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a shadow over the Earth.  It can only occur during the new moon phase.  The Great American Eclipse is special, because a huge part of the United States will be close to the total viewing path that spans from coast to coast.  Those in that path, will see a total eclipse or 100% dark.  The eclipse will be partially viewable from many locations. And although solar eclipses happen relatively often, it is the angle of the moon as it passes the sun, that determines the view-ability from your location.


When is the Eclipse?

August 21, 2017.  The day my children decide I am the coolest mom ever for letting them skip an entire day of school, road tripping with friends and awesome music from the 80’s, and allowing them to witness approximately two minutes of total darkness.

NASA shares this cool video of the path of the Eclipse with actual times at each location!

What time is the Eclipse?

The best way to find out what time the eclipse will be happening in your neck of the woods, is to check out an interactive map.  I found a great one here.  This website allows you to put your zip code in to determine what percentage of the eclipse you will see.  It also determines how far away you are from the best place to view the total eclipse.

solar eclipse glasses

How to safely watch the Solar Eclipse?

Turn away bright eyes….I couldn’t resist!  Eye safety is actually a big concern to consider when viewing the eclipse.  It is dangerous to look directly at the sun which could cause permanent eye damage, even with just a quick glance for a few seconds.  A lot of companies are selling cheap glasses, that may not be enough protection.  NASA suggests that your handheld solar viewers (fancy NASA term for paper glasses) should have certification information with a designated ISO 12312-2 printed somewhere on the glasses.  They recommend using glasses made by American Paper Optics, Baader Planetarium, Rainbow Symphony, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.

Best places to watch the Eclipse?

NASA has loads of 2017 Solar Eclipse maps so you can see city by city the best viewing areas. USA Today shares this general overview of the best viewing areas for the Eclipse.  If taking the day off and getting yourself to one of these locations is not in your reach, don’t fret!  NASA will be live streaming the total event.  You can watch it from your desk at work (your boss will probably be watching too) or you can watch it from the comfort of your home and not fight the traffic that will surely be piled up for those crazy enough to try and make a day trip–ahem–myself!  I hope this information will help you make a plan to somehow be a part of the Great American Eclipse.  I would love to hear what you are doing!  Do you live in the total viewing pathway?  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you and your family are planning, and/or what your city/town is doing to make this event special!  I would love to hear from you!


2017 Total Solar Eclipse across America USA map color illustration

Solar Eclipse Coloring Pages

Looking for some fun Solar Eclipse activities be sure to start with the eclipse coloring pages!

2017 Solar Eclipse Graphic Organizer

eclipse coloring sheet


download {eclipse coloring page}
eclipse coloring page

DIY Solar Eclipse Pinhole Projector

How cool is this!?! Make your very own pinhole projector  to view  the solar eclipse! You don’t need fancy equipment to watch this awesome show. With a few simple supplies, you can make a pinhole camera that allows you to view the event safely.

Eclipse T-Shirt

Don’t forget to dress for the occasion. We had these 2017 Solar Eclipse t-shirts made especially for us! Thery’re on Amazon and you can grab one if you like!


This one says it is a premium shirt and is $19.95

solar eclipse tshirt

This shirt says regular shirt  and is $16.95. Mine haven’t come yet so I can’t give you any sizing recommendations, sorry!

eclipse shirt



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  1. Thank you for sharing this article about the eclipse. If you want to check out Mystery science with Doug, it has some really cool videos and information about the eclipse. Just thought I would mention it for the ones who are worried about missing a day of school:)

  2. My hubby and I are going! We have to travel to SC (from FL) and although friends are satisfied with less than 100% I’m not! I want to see the whole thing! Traffic is supposed to be bad so we are staying with a friend in Savannah GA so we only have to drive 2 hours instead of 4. Love the tshirt you shared!

  3. So excited!! Just bought our tickets to Nebraska from Texas. We do not want to miss this event …especially since it’s passing through my hometown of Lincoln. Yep, cool Mom right here!

    Thanks for all the great info! Looks like I’ll need that tshirt

  4. Wow, anything I ever needed to know about this eclipse is right here at my fingertips! Your girls are lucky to have a mom who knows to give them a well rounded education! Way to go! You rock!!!

  5. Lucky enough to live in Nashville. We are the largest city in the path of totality. I can remember watching the ’79 eclipse. Can’t wait to see this one! Should be a lot of fun!

  6. This event surely is worth taking the day off from school or work! We will be traveling to Missouri to view it, as St. Joseph MO, is one of the cities with a 100% eclipse. Enjoy the trip and experience!

  7. Thanks for all of the great info. I am thinking about taking my kids out of school too as we live close to the pathway! And, I love the T-shirt. I think I will pick up a couple!!

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