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Total Solar Eclipse: Science Fact vs. Science Fiction!

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People across the United States are excited for the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. Use the statements below to test your students’ eclipse and space knowledge. Each statement comes with a resource to learn more.

“Total solar eclipses happen once or twice a year on Earth.”
Fact! Eclipses happen regularly, but it’s rare for one to be visible across the entire United States.
Learn more: “Total Solar Eclipse Animation” | NOVA
Grades 3 – 12  

“The Moon always shows the same side to the Earth.”
Fact! The Moon rotates on it's axis at the same speed it rotates around the Earth, so the same side is always visible to us.
Learn more: “Why Don’t We Ever See the Far Side of the Moon?” | PBS Newshour
Grades 7+ 

“The Sun is made of gold.”
Fiction! It may look gold, but the Sun is a plasma, primarily made of hydrogen with smaller amounts of other elements.
Learn more: “The Anatomy of the Sun” |  NOVA 
Grades 6 – 12  

“Solar eclipses are caused when the Earth gets between the Sun and the Moon.”
Fiction! A solar eclipse is caused when the Moon travels between the Sun and the Earth, blocking light from the Sun.
Learn more: “Solar Eclipse Animation” | UNC TV Science
Grades 6 – 12 

“When three things line up in a row, it’s called a syzygy.”
Fact! Syzygy is the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies.
Learn More: Syzygy Definition | Merriam-Webster 
Grades 3+ 

“The Sun orbits the Earth.”
Fiction! While it may seem like the Sun is moving and Earth is fixed, it is actually the opposite. The Earth orbits the Sun. It takes about 365 days for the Earth to make one full rotation around the Sun.
Learn more: “Why Do We Have Different Seasons?” |  California Academy of Sciences
Grades 6 – 12 

“The Sun is a star.”
Fact! The Sun is the largest star in our solar system!
Learn more: “The Sun A Real Star” | WGBH
Grades K – 2   

“The Moon is slowly getting farther away from the Earth.”
Fact! The Moon spins away from Earth very slowly (about 1.48inches per year). But don’t worry, we won’t lose the Moon anytime soon, it would take billions of years for this to have a significant effect on the Earth.
Learn more:“Why the Moon is Getting Further Away from Earth” | BBC
Grades: 7+ 

Looking for more info on the solar system for young children?
Try “Tour of the Solar System” from Ready, Jet, Go! (Grades K-3).

Trying to track down resources for older students?
Check out this video on eclipses from theCrash Course(Grades 9-12).

Watch the Eclipse with Ready Jet Go! Dr. Amy Mainzer, and Bill Nye
Date: August 20 & 21
Location: Homestead National Monument of America, Beatrice, NE
Livestream: Ready, Jet, Go! on Facebook
About: Ready Jet Go! will be the main-stage attraction at Homestead National Monument of America on August 20th and 21st. Their performances on August 20th will include two family shows that run 45 minutes each at 2:00 pm CST and 4:30 pm CST. There will be a livestream taking place at those times that can be accessed through the Ready Jet Go! Facebook page, thanks to the National Park Service. The 90 minutes leading up to the total solar eclipse on August 21st will be hosted by Ready Jet Go!’s Dr. Amy Mainzer and special guest Bill Nye who will take the stage to lead the audience through this natural phenomenon.

Ready, Jet, Go!

Ready, Jet, Go! Education Team

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