This year our little homeschool is studying Astronomy. It’s the kind of Astronomy I wish had been the basis of the Astro 1 class I took in college. No one told me it was astrophysics! Booooorrrrring!
No, this astronomy is learning about the planets and constellations and how things work up in space.
We’ve been using Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright. It is a wonderfully accessible book for my elementary aged children — and thirtysomething mamas who didn’t like their freshman general ed requirements.
A couple months ago when we studied the Moon, we learned about lunar eclipses. This prompted me to find out when the next one would occur. I marked it on my calendar, and we’ve been waiting for it. And it’s tonight!
Here’s what I learned on NASA’s website about this lunar eclipse:
From beginning to end, the eclipse will last about three hours and twenty-eight minutes. For observers on the east coast of the U.S. the eclipse lasts from 1:33am EST through 5:01 a.m. EST. Viewers on the west coast will be able to tune in a bit earlier. For them the eclipse begins at 10:33 p.m. PST on December 20 and lasts until 2:01am PST on Dec. 21. Totality, the time when Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon, will last a lengthy 72 minutes.
If you can’t get a good view from your house or the weather doesn’t cooperate, NASA will be broadcasting a live video feed.
One interesting note is this is the first time in over 400 years that the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, and a lunar eclipse coincide. It’s just a coincidence, but for skywatchers, it’s interesting.
Making teachable moments
What can we do that is fun and educational — besides staying up until 2 am?
- Enjoy some Moon Pies.
- Bake a rocket shaped cake – from Family Fun
- If you have a 3D ball cake pan, bake up a moon. Decorate with grey icing. (Yes, I know the moon is really black, I learned that much in Astro 1, but black frosting tastes awful!)
- Study how astronauts eat and try some astronaut ice cream. Call your local science museum; they may carry the ice cream so you don’t have to order it.
- Mix up a batch of space food sticks.
Out of this World Movies
Catch a fun flick!
- The Magic School Bus Space Adventures
- Wall-E – very cute movie
- Space Buddies – Air Bud continues on into infinity and beyond
- Space Chimps – we saw this for free this summer and it was hilarious!
- Apollo 13 – rated PG, I’m guessing due to language
- The Right Stuff – rated PG
Will you stay up?
What will you do?