5 Tips for viewing the Solar Eclipse with your Kids

As you may have heard, a total solar eclipse will hit the skies on August 21st, 2017. While Birmingham isn’t in the total phase of this solar eclipse, it can be observed here as a partial eclipse. Total solar eclipses occur when the New Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow, the umbra, on Earth. A full solar eclipse, known as totality, is almost as dark as night.

Tips on viewing the Solar Eclipse with your kids:

Protect Your Eyes

Never look directly at the Sun, eclipsed or otherwise, without proper protective eyewear. The Sun’s UV radiation can burn the retinas in your eyes, and cause permanent damage or even blindness.

To watch a solar eclipse safely, wear protective eclipse glasses (Click here for a list of libraries offering free glasses) or project an image of the eclipsed Sun using a pinhole projector.

If you’re planning to travel to a location of a full black out, when it becomes as dark as night, you can remove your glasses and look directly at the eclipse. The corona of the sun will have blossomed out from the black face of the moon. The sight is spectacular, but make sure to put the glasses back on when totality ends, after only a minute or two. And if you are only seeing a partial eclipse (like here in Birmingham,) you MUST keep the glasses on for the entire time.

Plan your location

If you are near the Path of Totality, be sure and figure out exactly where you plan to view the eclipse from. Chances are, the areas are going to be very crowded so arrive early to get your spot. Find a spot without trees or buildings so your view won’t be blocked. It’s possible you will be in your spot for a couple of hours, make sure to have chairs and some things to keep you busy while you wait.


Get your kids involved and excited ahead of time by doing some research online, look up pictures and check out books at the library. Make it something you can all learn about together as a family. While watching the eclipse it will be fun to know what’s happening and why.

Ditch your phone/electronics

It is highly unlikely that you are going to get good pictures, so sit back and take it all in with your own (protected) eyes and don’t be distracted with your screens.

Enjoy the moment

The eclipse doesn’t last long, make sure you kids know this is something that won’t happen again for a long time, and something they might not ever see again.

Do you have plans to watch the eclipse, what are you doing to prepare?


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