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August 21 Solar Eclipse

** School Cancelled, Monday, August 21st ** - Please read Mr. Hinchey's letter with details about the cancellation and information about joining us on campus for an eclispe viewing event.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, at 2:41 p.m., Columbia will experience a total eclipse of the sun.

To make the most of the occasion, Heathwood has a number of eclipse-related activities planned for that day, including a guest speaker and a school-wide eclipse viewing on our football field, to which Heathwood parents and siblings are also invited. We'll have free eclipse glasses and refreshments will be available.

To commemorate the occasion, the Upper School Science Club is selling eclipse t-shirts, which are available for purchase for $10 each here. Order your shirts by July 31, and they'll be delivered to your children during the opening days of school.


Heathwood Eclipse Details

  • Columbia will begin to experience partial eclipse at 1:13 pm and it will end at 4:06 pm
  • Columbia will experience total eclipse at 2:41 pm on Monday, August 21, 2017 for up to 2 minutes and 36 seconds, ending around 2:44 pm.
  • Heathwood students will watch the eclipse from the Highlander Football Stands.  Each division will have their own dismissal time to the football field.  Please look out for information from your division(s) closer to Eclipse Day.
  • Families and Alumni are invited out to enjoy the eclipse, and you are welcome to arrive whenever you would like to begin experiencing it.
  • T-Shirts, designed by the Upper School Science Club, can be ordered at by July 31st and can be worn on Eclipse Day, August 21st.
  • Eclipse glasses have been designed by Heathwood students and science faculty and will be available the day of the eclipse.  It is important to wear safety glasses during the eclipse.
  • The Students in each division will hear from our guest speaker, Lee Zalinger, before the eclipse begins. Mr. Zalinger, who is head of the science department at Westminster School in Connecticut, has 32 years of teaching experience. His interests include astronomy, history of science, and alternative energy.


Eclipse Fun Facts

  • A solar eclipse is a lineup of the sun, the moon and the Earth.  The new moon will pass directly between the sun and Earth and cast a shadow on the US. 
  • Solar eclipses do not happen at every New Moon.  The moon’s orbit is tilted five degrees to Earth’s orbit around the sun.  This makes it rare for the three objects to line up.
  • Totality is everything.  Only during totality can you experience a 360 degree sunset, the diamond ring effect, the sun’s glorious corona, and see stars in the daytime.
  • Be in the center.  The center line of the eclipse’s path crosses through ten states.  South Carolina is the last state to experience totality.  It will last around 2 minutes and 30 seconds, give or take some, depending on your location. 
  • Nature will change.  The sunset will surround you, the shadows will look different.  The breeze will dissipate and the birds will stop chirping (to come in to roost).  The temperature may drop 10 – 15 degrees.
  • You don’t need a telescope.  During the partial phases, a pair of solar safe glasses will suffice and during the short totality phase you can look directly at the sun, although it is recommended that you continue to do so through your glasses. 

(Adapted from Astronomy Magazine’s “25 Facts about the 2017 Solar Eclipse”)


Eclipse Safety Tips                                 

  • Partial Eclipse, annular eclipse and the partial phases of total eclipses are never safe to watch without taking special precautions.
  • The Sun can only be viewed directly when filters specially designed to protect the eyes are used. Most such filters have a thin layer of chromium alloy or aluminum deposited on their surfaces that attenuates both visible and near-infrared radiation.
  • No filter is safe to use with any optical device unless it has been specifically designed for that purpose, as Heathwood’s eclipse glasses have been.

(Adapted from NASA’s “Eye Safety During a Solar Eclipse”)


Here is the City of Columbia’s primary Eclipse website


Want to know more about what to expect on the 21st? The National Science Teachers Association has put together a comprehensive guide to viewing the eclipse, which is available for download here.