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Solar Eclipse Event

Solar Eclipse Day Events at the Pink Palace Museum

Get your Solar Eclipse Glasses here!

The sun is always shining on the Pink Palace Museum…except for the two or so minutes of total Solar Eclipse, Monday, August 21, 2017!

Total Eclipse of the Sun Day at the Pink Palace is FREE, 12 noon to 2pm, Monday, August 21, 2017, on the front lawn of the Pink Palace Museum. 

Celebrate, enjoy, learn and most of all, experience this once-in-a-lifetime event at the Pink Palace Museum. While it’s true that Memphis will only see an almost total (94%) eclipse, we are making the most of it.

If you are not going east to be in the path of totality, go central, as in 3050 Central Avenue and come to the Pink Palace Museum and join us on the lawn for:

  • Safe, viewing telescopes
  • Scale model solar system walk
  • Eclipse activity tables
  • Eclipse educators and Planetarium astronomers
  • NASA live feed of the Solar Eclipse on our Planetarium lobby monitors
  • World’s largest fully functioning solar eclipse glasses (courtesy of American Paper Optics in Bartlett)
  • FREE
  • Monday, August 21, 2017, 12 noon to 2pm

Since it is never safe to stare into the sun, stop by our Museum Shop and buy your safe viewing Solar Eclipse glasses.

Teachers - If you plan to join us that day, please ask your students not to pull, push, or lean on the telescope. The telescope is already pointing at the sun. Simply bring your eye to the eyepiece. The yellow part is the sun. The dark part that looks like a bite taken out of it is the moon passing in front of the sun. 

Teacher Resources for the Solar Eclipse 8.21.17

What is an eclipse? An eclipse occurs when either the Earth or the Moon blocks the light of the sun to the other object (Earth or Moon). When the moon blocks part of the sun, we have a Partial eclipse. When the moon blocks all of the sun, it is called a Total Eclipse. When the earth blocks the light of the sun to the moon, we call it a Lunar Eclipse. 

Myth: Eclipses are dangerous!

Eclipsed or not, the sun is too bright to observe directly. In fact it is NEVER safe to look directly at the sun without protection, even for a moment. There is nothing more dangerous about an eclipse, except maybe when the light of the sun dims so much by the moon’s coverage that your irises relax, making your pupils larger, permitting more light to enter. Eyes have lenses designed to focus light onto the retina at the back of your eyeball where receptors translate the stimulation into electrical signals transmitted by nerves that go to your brain. That’s where the signal is translated into an image. So looking at the sun directly will cause damage that can be instant and/or accumulate over time. The Pink Palace Museum Shop sells safe solar eclipse glasses that will permit safe, direct observing of the sun AS LONG AS THE GLASSES HAVE NO HOLES OR SCRATCHES! They should be checked for holes and scratches before purchase (and again before use) by holding them up to a bright indoor light source. If you see scratches and/or holes discard them and buy new ones. 

Eclipse details for Memphis (Longitude - W89 degrees 59’ 24”, Latitude - N35 degrees 7’ 12”):

Eclipse begins at 11:52:26.4 a.m.

Maximum Eclipse is at 1:22:54.4 p.m.

Eclipse Ends at 2:50:14.1 p.m.

Total Duration = 2h 57min. 47.7s

Maximum obscuration (coverage of sun by moon) at Maximum Eclipse = 93.3%


If you are a significant distance outside of Memphis you may want to find the exact timing for your location:



For exact local eclipse timing: https://www.eclipsecountdown.com/  

Weather dependent – If the sky is 100% cloudy, the eclipse cannot be seen. Optical telescopes cannot see through clouds! There might still be a noticeable darkening outside but it will be difficult to distinguish the effect from that of a dense cloud cover.  The only viewing then will be by internet.

Observing at the Pink Palace Museum – We will have safe solar viewing on the lawn of the Museum Monday, August 21 (if clear or even if partly cloudy):

Staff and volunteers will supervise viewing through telescopes with safe solar filters from noon to 2:00 p.m. if the sky is clear enough.

Teachers - If you plan to join us that day, please ask your students not to pull, push, or lean on the telescope. The telescope is already pointing at the sun. Simply bring your eye to the eyepiece. The yellow part is the sun. The dark part that looks like a bite taken out of it is the moon passing in front of the sun. 


Create a Word Find using these vocabulary words.

 Eclipse Glasses: Buy or have donated enough glasses for your class to view the eclipse through a window or go outside of the school walls to a location on the playground where you can observe the eclipse. Eclipse glasses are available at the Pink Palace Museum Shop but hurry, supplies are going fast.

Ask students: What do you see happening? Their answers will tell you their level of understanding of the event, so you can explain it better, if needed.

At points from the beginning of the eclipse to the end, point out how the coverage changes (the moon moving over the sun from west to east). This can lead into a discussion of rotation and revolution and the true direction the moon revolves around earth (west to east).  

Pinhole projection demonstration:

  • For instruction to make a pinhole projector out of a shoebox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGCYu7RMZLo
  • For a demonstration of using a colander (not a strainer) to show the eclipsed sun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei9jOINcD6A  
  • Be sure to show them what the light spots look like before the eclipse begins, so they will see how it has changed during the eclipse.
  • You can even create a safe image of the eclipsed sun by making a lattice of crossed fingers using both hands, one over the other.

Demonstrate Earth/Moon size and distance scale: The moon ball will be approximately ¼ the diameter of the earth ball (or actual globe). The Sun will be 109 times the diameter of the earth ball. Here is a link to a NASA activity: https://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2007/materials/solar_pizza.pdf

Continue with a scale model solar system. https://www.noao.edu/education/peppercorn/pcmain.html

Make a sundial – Pound a pole into the ground so it stands straight up. Then at the top of every hour place an object to mark top of the shadow. Or check out a method using paper plates and straws:  https://www.nwf.org/kids/family-fun/crafts/sundial.aspx

   Other projection methods:

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