May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Get Ready for October’s Two Eclipses

Posted: Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Robert Victor

There are two eclipses in October 2014. First is a total lunar eclipse in the predawn hours of Wednesday, October 8. (Set your alarm when you turn in for the night on 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. (A 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 partially 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.

Stage of eclipse       Time                 Moon’s Azimuth Altitude

Moon enters umbra   2:15 a.m. PDT                  227°         52°

Total eclipse begins   3:25 a.m. PDT                   245°         41°

Deepest eclipse         3:55 a.m. PDT                   251°         35°

Total eclipse ends     4:24 a.m. PDT                   256°       29°

Moon leaves umbra   5:34 a.m. PDT                 267°       16°

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.

October’s second eclipse is a partial solar event in the afternoon on Thursday, October 23.

I recommend that teachers order quantities of solar eclipse viewers for students soon, instead of waiting until fall, when supplies might run out. Hand-held 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 and click on eclipse shades.

The viewers can be recycled for future eclipses! In the next 10 years there will be three more solar eclipses visible from California:

2017 Aug. 21 (total in narrow track across U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina)

2023 Oct. 14 (annular in track across Oregon, NE corner of California, Nevada, Utah, Four Corners, New Mexico, Texas, Central America, to Brazil)

2024 Apr. 8 (total in wide track across Mexico, Texas to Maine, Maritime Provinces of Canada, Newfoundland)

These filters can also be used to check for sunspots. Very large ones would be visible through the filter.

The times of the eclipse stages depends on your location. In California, the Oct. 23 solar eclipse gets underway with first contact of the Moon’s disk at the edge of the solar 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, 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.

In Palm Springs, the 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.

Here are further details about the Oct. 23 eclipse for Palm Springs.

First contact: 2:12.1 p.m. PDT, Moon first appears at upper right edge of Sun’s disk, 66 degrees clockwise from the top of the disk, near the “2 o’clock” position. Sun’s position in sky: Azimuth 213 degrees, altitude 38 degrees.

Greatest eclipse: 3:31.1 p.m. PDT, Moon’s disk covers 45 percent of diameter of Sun’s disk, or 33 percent of its area. The upper right portion of the Sun will be covered, centered at the point 25 degrees clockwise from the top of the disk, near the “1 o’clock” edge, leaving the 7 o’clock side most exposed. Position in sky: Azimuth 232 degrees, altitude 28 degrees.

Last contact: 4:41.5 p.m. PDT, Moon leaves the Sun at upper left edge of solar disk, 22 degrees counterclockwise from the top of the disk, roughly near the “11 o’clock” position. Position in sky: Azimuth 244 degrees, altitude 15 degrees.

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.