This Week in Geographic History: Solar Eclipse

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We’re slowing down for the summer! Instead of our usual roundup of “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events, here’s a closer look at one historic event that connects to something in the news today. We’ve also matched it with a map or visual, background information, and additional resources.

Friday, August 11

NGS Picture Id:678633

During a total solar eclipse, like this one in 1919, the moon entirely covers the sun. This makes the glowing outermost part of the sun, the corona, visible. Photograph by U.S. Naval Observatory, National Geographic.

TDIGH: Most Widely Viewed Solar Eclipse

In 1999, the last total solar eclipse of the 20th century was visible across northern Europe, the Middle East, and India, and was viewed by 350 million people.

Current Event: “Viewing The Great American Eclipse”

On August 21 a total solar eclipse will sweep across the United States for the first time in almost 40 years.

Map:

Eclipse Maps from NASA

Background:

Encyclopedia entry: eclipse

What is an eclipse?

“Getting Ready for the Eclipse”

Build a Solar Eclipse Viewer

More info about the August 21 eclipse

Article about what you need to know for the August 21 eclipse

Discussion Questions:  

  1. Why do solar eclipses occur? How are they different from lunar eclipses?
  2. What kind of information do you think scientists can learn from eclipses? (Answer can be found here.)

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