Get Ready for October’s Two Eclipses
Posted: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Revised October 7, 2014
by Robert C. Victor
There are two eclipses in October 2014. First up is a total lunar eclipse in the predawn hours of Wednesday, October 8. (Set your alarm when you turn in for the night on Tuesday, October 7.) Owing to the unfortunate timing of this lunar eclipse during early predawn hours, the event might not be widely seen by elementary school students. The brief total lunar eclipse on April 4, 2015, centered on 5:00 a.m. PDT, may be somewhat more convenient to observe. The lunar eclipse on the evening of September 27, 2015 will be just about perfect for public viewing in California, with the Moon in partial eclipse as it rises around sunset; in total eclipse during 7:11-8:23 p.m. PDT; and out of the umbra by 9:27 p.m.
Here are the times for the various stages of the October 8, 2014 lunar eclipse for the Pacific Time Zone. Moon’s position in the sky is given for Palm Springs, CA. Report the brightness and color of the Moon at beginning, middle, and end of totality, at 3:25 a.m., 3:55 a.m., and 4:24 a.m. PDT: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OHres/Danjon.html.
During totality in Palm Springs, CA, Uranus (mag. 5.7) should be visible in binoculars nearly 1.0° to the left or lower left of the center of the eclipsed Moon. A medium to high power telescope reveals the planet’s disk, 3.7 arcseconds across.
In the two weeks after the Oct. 8 lunar eclipse, leading up to the solar eclipse:
Oct. 10-20: Good dates for daytime Moonwatch as first activity of school day.
Oct. 14-18 are the best dates for viewing lunar surface details through telescope and binoculars. When observing the Moon in the daytime through a telescope, use a single polarizing filter threaded into your low-power eyepiece to enhance contrast of Moon against the sky. While observing the Moon, rotate the eyepiece in its tube until the blue sky surrounding the Moon’s disk appears darkest. This works best when the Moon is within a day or two of Last Quarter or First Quarter phase.
Consider holding a predawn session in October. While we’re still on daylight saving time, starting your session 1-3/4 hours before sunrise wouldn’t be unreasonably early by the clock, and you’d get good looks at Jupiter and a preview of the stars of late winter.
Oct. 17 and 18, dawn: Look for Jupiter near the waning crescent Moon.
October’s second eclipse is a partial solar event in the afternoon on Thursday, October 23.
The times of the stages of a solar eclipse depends on your location. In California, this eclipse gets underway with first contact of the Moon’s disk at the edge of the Sun’s disk occurring just after 1:40 p.m. PDT in the northwest corner of the state, to 2:19 p.m. in the southeast corner. Deepest eclipse occurs at 3:06 p.m. in the northwest corner of California, to 3:36 p.m. in the southeast. Last contact, marking the end of the eclipse, occurs at 4:25 p.m. in the northwest corner of California, to 4:44 p.m. in the southeast.
Seen from Palm Springs, the solar eclipse begins at 2:12 p.m. PDT, as the Moon’s disk makes first contact with the upper right edge of the Sun’s disk. Greatest eclipse for Palm Springs occurs at 3:31 p.m. PDT, as the Moon’s disk covers the upper right portion of the Sun’s disk, the Moon covering 45 percent of the solar diameter, or 33 percent of the disk area. From Palm Springs, the eclipse ends at 4:41 p.m. PDT, as the Moon’s disk makes last contact with the upper left edge of the solar disk.
During the eclipse in Palm Springs, the Sun will be sinking through the southwestern sky, at an altitude ranging from 38° at the start of the event, to 15° at the end.
Follow these web links to obtain information on visibility of solar and lunar eclipses for any locality:
How to observe the solar eclipse (October 23)
Indirect viewing: A solar eclipse can be viewed indirectly, by looking at a projected image. Take a postcard or 3” x 5” index card, puncture a small pencil point hole in the center of the card, and allow the projected image of the Sun to fall on a second white card held 3 or 4 feet away, in the shadow of the first card. The diameter of the solar image will be just under one percent of the projection distance, and the size of the punctured hole should be small compared to that. You can improve the view by using a long cardboard box, cutting a large hole at one end, and covering that hole with the first index card with the small puncture hole. Tape a sheet of white paper inside the box at the opposite end, to serve as a screen.
You can also stand in the shade of a tree, and look for projected images of the eclipsed Sun, on the ground or on a white sheet you have spread on the ground, or on the side of a light-colored building. Try out this method at the same time of day as the eclipse will occur, on any day before the event, and notice the round projected images of the full disk of the Sun.
Direct viewing: Groups organizing a solar eclipse watch can also order a quantity of solar eclipse viewers for participants. Hand-held, safe eclipse viewers and eclipse glasses to be worn like regular eyeglasses are available from Rainbow Symphony. Both styles are identically priced and employ the same filter materials. The minimum quantity for those items is 25 count, at 85 cents each. There is a discount for quantity orders. For more information, and to order, go to www.rainbowsymphonystore.com and click on eclipse shades.
The viewers can be recycled for future eclipses! (They can also be used to check for sunspots; very large ones would be visible through the filter.)
In Palm Springs, the eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23, begins at 2:12 p.m. PDT, as the moon’s disk makes first contact with the upper right edge of the sun’s disk. Greatest eclipse for Palm Springs occurs at 3:31 p.m., as the moon’s disk covers the upper right portion of the sun’s disk—45 percent of the solar diameter, or 33 percent of the disk area. The eclipse ends at 4:41 p.m., as the moon’s disk makes last contact with the upper left edge of the solar disk.
During the eclipse in Palm Springs, the sun will be sinking through the southwestern sky, at an altitude ranging from 38 degrees at the start of the event, to 15 degrees at the end.
In the days following the Oct. 23 solar eclipse:
Oct. 25, Two days after the solar eclipse, at dusk: Can you spot Saturn 4°-5° lower right of the thin young crescent Moon?
Oct. 26 at dusk: Look for Antares 8° lower left of Moon.
Oct. 27 and 28, at dusk: Find Mars near Moon.
On Nov. 3 and 11-12, at nightfall: Watch Mars pass close to stars in the Teapot of Sagittarius.
Use the following web links to obtain information on visibility of past, present, and future eclipses for any locality. Choose your city or enter your longitude and latitude. For times expressed in Pacific Daylight Time, choose Time Zone 7h 00m W. Next, for eclipses in the current century, choose Century 2001-2100, and subtract one hour from times for eclipses occurring on dates Pacific Standard Time is in effect.
Solar eclipses: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/JSEX/JSEX-index.html
Lunar eclipses: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/JLEX/JLEX-index.html
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…