The Great American Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017

The WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy and Extension Service, with the help of the Green Bank Observatory and the West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, are bringing the Great American Eclipse to West Virginia! Our intention is for this page to be a "one-stop shop" for West Virginians. There are a lot of eclipse resources out there, but we have picked the ones that we think are most relevant to the Mountain State. Much of the content in our videos comes from these websites below. Feel free to browse on your own, too!

NASA Eclipse Resources
NISE Network Earth and Space Toolkit
Astronomical Society of the Pacific Eclipse Resources
NASA Balloon Project Live Stream
Great American
American Eclipse

What is The Great American Eclipse?

The August 21st, 2017 solar eclipse has been named “The Great American Eclipse” because it can be seen across the entire continental United States. This is the first total solar eclipse visible in the US during the 21st century, and the next one is still over 7 years away. Though totality, when the moon completely covers the sun and causes temporary darkness, can only be seen in a few narrow bands outside of West Virginia, we will still be able to experience up to 90% coverage of the Sun by the Moon. The last time we had this opportunity here in WV was 1994 – and the next won’t be until 2024!

Eclipse Path

What are we going to do?

Throughout the summer, the WVU Physics & Astronomy Department and WVU Extension Service are teaming up to teach West Virginia youth how to share this historic event with their friends and families right in their very own communities. To make this experience available to kids all over the state, we’ll be:

Creating and distributing eclipse glasses to 6th graders, 4-H campers (through Extension), and community members to allow them to engage with this science experience without any cost or travel – they just need to look up! Didn't get our free supply of eclipse glasses in time? Fear not! Purchase your own through a reputable vendor recommended by the American Astronomical Society.

WVU Eclipse Glasses 

Visiting local schools to talk about the eclipse and making educational material available to teachers and their classrooms 
Working with 4-H STEM Ambassadors to train 4-H camping volunteers and provide “Summer Science Experiment” kits to over 100 4-H camps 

Pre-Eclipse Open House

On Saturday, August 19th from 9am-12pm the WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy will host a Pre-Eclipse Open House at the downtown campus building White Hall (135 Willey St., Morgantown, WV) where participants will receive “passports” that take them on a self-guided learning adventure full of mini-lectures, hands-on activities, planetarium shows, and rooftop observing. Our friends from the Spark! Imagination and Science Center will be helping us with a eclipse solar corona art project!

Pre-Eclipse Open House Schedule pdf

Eclipse Day Viewing

During eclipse time on Monday, August 21st, from 1-4pm we will have about a dozen Physics & Astronomy student volunteers with small telescopes and sun spotters set up outside the WVU Mountainlair. Astronomy 106 students will also be present to share their eclipse glasses with passersby. Remember: Do not look at the sun directly without proper protection! Sunglasses are NOT enough. If you cannot make it to the Mountainlair, just use a pinhole to project an image of the Sun on the ground (for example, watch this video to learn how). Some WVU TV kiosks will also display the NASA live coverage of the eclipse. Enjoy!

For Teachers

Our FREE eclipse glasses request form is maxed out - sorry!
But... there is still time to purchase glasses very affordably! Use a reputable vendor recommended by the American Astronomical Society

We received over 450 requests from WV educators for eclipse glasses! A list of how many glasses each school is receiving was sent out August 3rd. We gave priority to 6th grade, since eclipses are listed in the 6th grade State Science Standard (S.6.ESS.1 to “develop and use a model of the Earth-sun- moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.”) Second priority went to 7th and 8th grades, then other grades were given half, a third, or even a smaller amount of what they requested, based on request date. We will mail multiple requests from a single school in a single package unless otherwise noted. Please share!!! Glasses packaging is on August 7th, and mailing in on August 8th, so you should expect to receive your glasses well before the eclipse!

Note: you probably don't need as many glasses as you think! 1 for every 5-10 students is actually enough. The eclipse lasts from 1-4pm, with a truly spectacular view from at least 2-3pm. It doesn't take more than a few minutes with the glasses to appreciate it. Students can cycle in groups of 10 for ~10 minutes each while others use the pinhole projection method of observing indirectly. See our training videos below!

Want us to visit you? Request for a trained ambassador from the WV Science Public Outreach Team (SPOT)!
Note that SPOT ambassadors are college students who are also gearing up with all of their classes around eclipse time, so it is more likely that you will receive a visit later in the school year rather than in August. The SPOT management team will be able to work with you to coordinate logistics.


1. What is an eclipse?

What is an eclipse Video (~19 min)

What is an eclipse PowerPoint
Activity: Sizing Up the Moon
Activity: Scale Model of the Sun and Earth

2. Eclipse-viewing safety

Safety video (~15 min)
Safety PowerPoint
Pinhole postcard

3. Eclipse Hands-On Activities and Demonstrations

Activities Video (~16 min)

Activities PowerPoint
Activity: NISE Create Your Own Eclipse and Facilitator Guide
Activity: ASP Why do Eclipses Happen?
Activity: Dimensions of the Sun (4-H Summer Science Experiment)

4. All about the Sun and Space Weather Research in West Virginia

Sun and Space Weather video (~35 min)

Sun and Space Weather PowerPoint

5. Actions Plans - Preparing Your Students and Community

Action Plan Video (~9 min)

Action Plan PowerPoint
Science Public Outreach Team (SPOT)
Eclipse 2017 WV Facebook Group
Reporting Form: Printable Copy and Online Form

Other fun links:

NASA Citizen Science Project
Eclipse Safari App

3D printable WV-shaped pinhole projector
EclipseMob Project
Eclipse MegaMovie Project
Eclipse Data Form
WVU Library Eclipse Research Guide and Apps