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Are You Ready for the Great American Eclipse?

Our live feed of the solar eclipse was a success! Thank you to all who joined. Visit our partners at Science Channel for archived footage and more, or explore our collection of solar eclipse resources for K-12 classrooms, now available in Discovery Education Streaming and Science Techbook.

To empower educators to take full advantage of this rare occasion, Discovery Education has provided a variety of resources to serve as catalysts for the inquiry process and ignite students' natural sense of curiosity and wonder.

On Monday, August 21, a total eclipse of the sun passed over the continental United States for the first time in 99 years. During this celestial event, the Moon completely blocked the Sun, and as the skies darkened and the temperature dropped, students' natural sense of curiosity and wonder was ignited!

The path of totality passed over 14 states — from Oregon in the west to South Carolina in the east — in approximately 93 minutes. Depending on where you lived along this path, you were able to see the total eclipse for one and a half to two and a half minutes. Viewers in other states were able to see a partial solar eclipse. Its size varied depending on how close you were to the path of totality.

4 Ways to Experience the Eclipse

#1Watch It Live Right Here

August 21 from 1:17-1:23 PM ET (10:17-10:23 AM PT)
Capture every moment of the Great American Eclipse with live coverage right here. Our partners at the Science Channel are broadcasting live from Madras, Oregon — one of the nation’s premier viewing spots — with astronomers and educators, in collaboration with the Lowell Observatory — and we will be streaming their footage direct to your classroom. Plus, you can also see live footage from other prime viewing destinations across America — and you’ll even get a glimpse of the eclipse from the International Space Station.

#2Join the Live Twitter Chat

August 21 from 1-3 PM ET (10 AM–12 Noon PT)
Tune in to the Great American Eclipse Twitter Chat with @DiscoveryEd (using the hashtag #CelebrateWithDE) for a live question and answer session with world renowned astronomer and astrophysicist Dr. Jeffrey Hall, director of the Lowell Observatory. You can also share your experience and see pictures from classrooms around the country as the Great American Eclipse travels from Oregon to South Carolina.

#3Access On-Demand Video and Classroom Resources

We've created a collection of solar eclipse resources for K-12 classrooms in Streaming and Science Techbook. You’ll find a variety of multimedia options, from videos and maps to pictures and lesson starters, accessible using your Discovery Education login.

Don't have a subscription to Discovery Education Streaming or Science Techbook? Start a free 60-day trial today to explore the Solar Eclipse Content Collection. Then simply type "Great American Eclipse" into the search window to locate these helpful resources.

Existing Users: Access Classroom Resources »

#4Host a Viewing Party

We’ve enclosed some useful tips to help you host a viewing party for your class, school, or community. This Viewing Party Guide will give you guiding questions, hands-on activities, and content recommendations by grade band. Read our Virtual Viewing Party Guide for the Great American Eclipse.

Eclipse Extras

Video: Great American Eclipse

Map the Eclipse


Key Facts for This Solar Eclipse

What is a Total Eclipse?

Solar eclipses can only happen during the new phase of the Moon, when the Moon lines up between the Earth and the Sun. If the three bodies are not quite aligned correctly, then the Moon may block part of the Sun in what is called a partial solar eclipse; if the three are perfectly aligned, then the Moon can completely cover the Sun, creating a total solar eclipse.

Total Darkness Will Last Over Two Minutes.

That is, if you're lucky enough to be observing the total solar eclipse in Madras, OR. According to charts for the 2017 eclipse, Madras is expected to experience a period of totality clocking in at 2 minutes and 2 seconds.

Totality Is Safe for the Eyes.

Those with space-enthusiast parents may recall childhood days watching partial solar eclipses move across cardboard cut-outs or through solar filters. We use these devices to protect our eyes' retinas from infrared radiation, UV light, and excessive blue light.

Unlike their partial counterparts, total solar eclipses are actually safe to watch directly, even through binoculars. This time period of safe viewing is short, though — eye safety precautions must be taken in periods leading up to, and immediately after, the total solar eclipse.

Only Certain Points Will Reach Total Darkness.

The prospect of being enveloped in nighttime darkness during the day may seem spooky or fascinating, depending on who you ask. What you should know, though, is that while some parts of the United States will reach total darkness, many more will still experience partial light.

That's because the solar eclipse follows a path over the United States, crossing the country in a 73-mile-wide diagonal band. While that arch covers the entire United States, only the areas sitting directly beneath this path will experience total darkness. This is called the Path of Totality.

Solar Eclipses Happen Frequently.

While a total solar eclipse is rare, solar eclipses in general are actually quite common. The Earth, moon, and sun align twice a year, leading to annular or partial solar eclipses.

Annular solar eclipses occur when the Moon blocks almost all of the Sun, but there's still a ring of light present around the rim. Partial solar eclipses occur when the Moon is only partially blocking the Sun, creating a small notch of darkness over the fiery orb. Americans not on the direct solar eclipse path in 2017 will see a partial eclipse — while it won't leave you in pitch blackness, it's still an incredible sight to behold.

You'll Have to Leave the City to See It.

The majority of areas on this year's solar eclipse path are not major cities. Most of the prime viewing locations are small American towns, such as Madras, Oregon. So, for those expecting to set out their lawn chairs in a big city or suburb, you may want to consider a road trip out of town instead.

The one exception is Nashville. Nashville is the only major city along the total solar eclipse route.

Other than Nashville, other capital cities that will have a good partial view are Portland, Oregon (99 percent totality), Atlanta (97 percent totality), and Seattle (92 percent totality).

The Next Total Solar Eclipse in North America Won’t Happen Until 2024.

Total solar eclipses do happen every few years. However, the audience witnessing these phenomena varies dramatically based on the date and the rotation of the Earth. For example, in 2016, parts of Southeast Asia experienced a total solar eclipse, and in 2019, South Americans will bear witness to one.

Eleven of the U.S. states are lucky enough to sit directly in the path of the 2017 event. But after this one, continental North America won't experience a total solar eclipse until 2024 — so make sure you're prepared on August 21, 2017.