Bringing your kids to a total solar eclipse is an interesting experience. I am not talking about the various perils of travel with children in tow, the unexpected complications they present, nor the difficulties of getting enough sleep. What I am talking about is the eclipse event. And what makes it interesting is that your children's feelings and memories of the event will change as time marches forward. The reactions do vary from child to child and sometimes you will not really know how it impacted them until many years after the event. Immediately after the eclipse they may seem indifferent and allusive. Or they may be caught up in the excitement of the crowd. They need time to absorb what was seen and experienced. It is really fascinating to hear them relate the experience to their peers as they pick up on things you might have missed while totally missing things you find important.
These cartoons relate some of the things I've heard of or seen directly as related to kids and eclipses. I do recommend you bring them along despite the hassle it might present. While they will not appreciate it as much as you do, they will eventually come around to realizing it was a very cool thing. Click the image for a higher resolution display. You can use these images in presentations with the following acknowledgement: Image
(c)Bill Kramer, www.eclipse-chasers.com. For commercial requests (publications) please contact me.
This one was inspired by a real event. During an eclipse at sea I was seated near a young family with a daughter whose "daddy" was a planetarium director. At the end of third contact every one cheered, clapped, and yelled. The daughter looked up at her dad with amazement in her eyes and exclaimed "Do it again Daddy!" in a loud voice. Several of us seated near by agreed with the request and said "Yeah, do that again!".
On eclipse day the focus is on the weather and kids often feel left out. Find a place to stay where they can play near by to keep themselves entertained while you get your gear in order and worry about every little cloud in the sky.
We have had success in the past with cruise ships as kids can group together and play. Other good places are camp grounds with a play area and a hotel with a swimming pool and/or play place not far from where you will watch the eclipse.
This one is from another personal experience with one of our daughters. In 1991 a total solar eclipse was visible in Hawaii before the path continued on to Mexico. We were in Baja Mexico and at a resort inside the central path. Our daughter had latched on to a new friend her age and was in a room watching TV. When I found her I told her to come out to see the eclipse and the two of them announced they had already seen it broadcast live from Hawaii.
The initial reaction of a kid to an eclipse may be a bit confusing. While you may find it awesome and bordering on the line of religious, kids don't. They are used to experiencing new things and this was just another new thing. It is much later that it sinks in just how special the event was to see. And if travel was involved to another country or region they've never seen the memory is all that much stronger.
Information that is passed multiple levels may confuse people. This one is based on a story that was related to me by an amateur astronomer about a mother that thought coffee filters would work for watching the Sun. She asked a member of a local astronomy club how to use the coffee filters and he showed her how to make a pinhole projection before showing her a real solar filter. At first he thought she just wanted to use that paper. The use of the name "filter" was passed over.
Teachers will be telling kids about the upcoming eclipses in the USA. At least that is what is hoped. We can expect more confusion in the days before totality. Stay tuned to web sites such as this one to get the right information.
An eclipse is an unusual thing to see. And it is human nature to see different shapes in it. For some it looks like an eye (my first impression) in the sky, the open yaw of a dragon diving towards you, a cross, an angel, a flower, and much more. Kids seem to catch a variety of shapes faster than adults so you should ask them to describe what it looks like during the eclipse, some of the descriptions can be quite fun. On the other hand, for eclipse chasers with automatic cameras it looks like a fast moving clock and they hope the equipment that was dragged along works okay.
All eclipse cartoons were created by Bill Kramer using an iPad and the ArtRage drawing program.