On Wednesday, August 11, 1999, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses the Eastern Hemisphere. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow begins in the Atlantic and crosses Central Europe, the Middle East, and India where it ends at sunset in the Bay of Bengal. A partial eclipse will be seen within the much broader path of the Moon's penumbral shadow, which includes Northeastern North America, all of Europe, Northern Africa and the western half of Asia. This event is the last total solar eclipse of the 20th century, and it will benefit formal and informal education communities alike.

The purpose of this Web site is to provide live coverage of the actual eclipse of the Sun from a ship in the Black Sea and to use this coverage for live museum programs. Listed on the Web site are the participating museums. Because many of the museums are involving the Girl Scouts in their programs, the Interest Project requirements are also available for both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The formal education community will be able to use the Web site as a tool for teaching about the relationship of the Sun, Moon, Earth, and eclipses. The actual event will be archived to enhance related activities provided by the museums during the school year. The Web site activities are presented through an integrated approach to provide mathematics and cultural connections.

Because the event is during the summer, the audience will be museum staff and visitors participating in the Web cast. Instruments on board the ship in the Black Sea will provide temperature, wind direction, light intensity, and barometric pressure. The changes during the eclipse will register on the Web site for interaction and discussion at the museum sites based on the design of their programs. The data will then be archived for future use in a classroom. Before totality, a weather briefing will be broadcast live via a Web cast from the ship. In addition, the museums will be given time on a first-come-first-served basis to control a pan/tilt camera on the ship. A separate camera will be used to capture the solar eclipse through totality. Astronaut Ron Parise will describe the happenings on board the ship and answer questions. Ron’s daughter, Katie Parise, will talk Girl Scout to Girl Scout from the ship to the museums located at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Exploratorium in California. Archeoastronomer Tony Aveni will provide information about the cultures and traditions that surround a solar eclipse. Audio connections during totality will be made at various sites along the path across Europe, ending with the scientists in Turkey. The following activities and items will be available before and after the event: interaction through questions and answers; a ship’s travel log; pictures from the ship; weather updates; and time slots for control of the camera on the ship’s deck.

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This Web site will provide activities that may be used to teach about the relationship between the Sun, Earth, and the Moon. The following national standards and benchmarks are connected to the activities. The history of eclipses and the cultures and traditions that eclipses have affected are also part of the information for use within a classroom setting. The Web site will continue to grow during the summer as information and images are added, becoming an effective tool for classroom use in science, mathematics, and social studies.

Formal Education Community Science and Mathematics Standards
National Science Education Standards

How do we gain knowledge of a solar eclipse?

  • By understanding that patterns in the sky have regular movements
  • By understanding position relationships among the Sun, Earth, and the Moon
  • By understanding the orbits and the application of mathematics

How can we gain understanding of the basic features of Earth?

  • By knowing that weather (in the short run) and climate (in the long run) involve the transfer of energy in and out of the atmosphere
  • By knowing that solar radiation heats the land masses, oceans, and air, and that transfer of heat energy at the boundaries between the atmosphere, the land masses, and the oceans results in layers at different temperatures and the densities in both the ocean and atmosphere
  • By knowing that the action of gravitational force on layers of different densities causes them to rise or fall
  • By knowing that such circulation influenced by the rotation of the Earth produces winds and ocean currents
  • By learning about the transfer of energy, energy types, sources, conversions, and their relationship to heat and temperature.

What can we learn about eclipses through traditions and cultures?

  • Important contributions to the advancement of science, mathematics, and technology have been made by different kinds of people, in different cultures, at different times.
  • Science is an adventure in which people everywhere can take part, as they have for many centuries
  • The Egyptian, Greek, Chinese, Hindu, and Arabic cultures are responsible for many scientific and mathematical ideas and technological inventions
  • Modern science is based on traditions of thought that came together in Europe about 500 years ago. People from all cultures now contribute to that tradition.

Boy Scouts of America


Girl Scouts of America


Mission specialist
Ron Parise

Ron Parise Bio

Ron Parise Video


Stairways to the Stars:
Skywatching in Three Great Ancient Cultures by
Anthony Aveni


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