Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.

FOR THE WEEK OF AUG. 14, 2017

There goes the sun: Solar eclipse over U.S. next week is a big deal – and not just for astronomers

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Millions of Americans can see a natural rarity overhead next Monday, Aug. 21. The sun, moon and Earth will line up perfectly in the cosmos, turning day into night for two strange minutes as its path crosses from Oregon's Pacific coast to the South Carolina's Atlantic shore. The phenomenon will be heavily viewed, studied by scientists, reported on by journalists and celebrated at universities, museums and stadiums along the 14-state path – which is 60 to 70 miles wide. Some schools in prime viewing areas will cancel classes and some businesses plan to allow eclipse-watching breaks. It'll also be partially visible in some areas not seeing the total blackout.

"It is the most weird, creepy, awe-inspiring astronomical event you will experience," says Bill Cooke of NASA. It's never safe to look directly at the sun more than briefly, even with regular sunglasses or through a camera lens. Spectators under and near the eclipse path need lenses that filter out enough of the bright light so it doesn’t burn a hole through your retinas (for real). Libraries all over the country are giving out two million free eclipse-viewing glasses. Sky-watchers also can use a handheld solar viewer or a special filter for your camera or telescope.

This will be the first cross-country total solar eclipse since the summer of 1918. There won't be another like it until 2045, when you’ll be 28 years older. High-altitude NASA balloons will beam back live video along the 3,000-mile route. "This is a really amazing chance to just open the public's eyes to wonder," says physicist Angela Des Jardins of Montana State University. Total eclipses actually come every one to three years, but usually occur over oceans or sparsely populated areas. Next Monday, there will be about four hours of hoopla -- starting with a partial eclipse visible near Lincoln City, Ore. Full darkness begins about 10:15 a.m. (Oregon time) and ends at 2:49 p.m. in East Coast time. It'll still get dark if the sky is overcast, but viewers won’t see the moon cover the sun or the eerie outer glow of a sunlight ring – called the corona.

Scientist says: "We're going to be looking at this event with unprecedented eyes." -- Alex Young, solar physicist at NASA

Sky buff says: "Going through life without ever experiencing totality is like going through life without ever falling in love." -- Rick Fienberg of the American Astronomical Society, who’ll go to Oregon to see his 13th total eclipse.

Journalist says: "If eclipses have taught me anything, it is that we are, necessarily, all in it together. Political and cultural differences fall flat in the face of the sun going out." – Helen Macdonald, New York Time contributor

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2017
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