On Wednesday, Aug. 23 North America will experience its first solar eclipse in almost 100 years. Solar eclipses occur only ever so often when the path of the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching Earth. This causes an eclipse of the sun, or solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow onto Earth.
This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon, to Charleston, South Carolina. United States observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.
Scientists are able to map out several decades in advance the timeline of future eclipses. The next U.S. eclipse is slated for 2024.
Teachers in Montgomery County and surrounding schools are using new technology such as pin hole projectors in order to live stream the eclipse. They are also using gizmos to produce science and math simulations in order to bring learning and real-life circumstances together.
The school board is preparing for this event in advance, by giving students special Iso glasses, which will protect their eyes from any harm during the eclipse. This is important because looking directly at the sun can permanently damage a viewer’s eyes. Montgomery Count School are providing the eclipse shades, which filter out 100 percent of harmful ultra-violet, 100 percent of harmful infrared, and 99.9 percent of intense visible light. These premium filters create a sharper orange colored image of the sun. While they look like the glasses that might be worn to a 3D film, they are necessary for viewing the event in a safe way.
The peak of the eclipse is expected to be around 2:40 p.m., and will last only about a minute. However, the school board is concerned about whether or not students will be able to see and wear the proper safety gear during the eclipse because school ends at 2:50 p.m. The school board discussed delaying the end of school on that day so students would have a better opportunity to view the astronomical event.
“If we just sent the glasses home, they may or may not get used,” Mark Miear, Montgomery County Superintendent said. “My concern is based on the timing that a lot of these kids are going to totally miss out on it based on the time of day, and I think that’s just sad. I think it is really something that we could make a great experience for our kids.”
However, while it would be beneficial for viewing purposes to postpone the end of the school day, various board members brought up the issues that even a 15- minute time difference could cause. This could delay afterschool programs, bus schedules, parents’ schedules, and cause issues with delaying the elementary school as well. The school board will make a decision at the next meeting on Tuesday, August 1. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Montgomery County Government Center, 755 Roanoke Street, Christiansburg.