[Editor’s note: I’m excited to have Sonja present you with a guest post about Monday’s solar eclipse!]

By Sonja Patterson, AOTA’s web and social media administrator

By now you’ve probably heard that on Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse will be viewable to 500 million people.

Are you planning to take your clients outside to see the total solar eclipse? Find the exact start time for the eclipse in your city and state with this interactive map from NASA.

First, it’s important to protect your eyes during the event. NASA recommends specific eye protection while looking at the eclipse. Some libraries across the country are handing out free glasses (see if your library is participating here). And the American Astronomical Society has a list of reputable dealers of glasses.

Solar Eclipse graphic courtesy of NASA

We know that nature can have powerful healing effects and exploring nature is a meaningful occupation for many. We’d love to hear how you plan to help your clients participate in this event.

Looking for activity ideas related to the eclipse? Here are a few suggestions:

Go over this eye safety social story (pdf) with your clients to make sure everyone is safe while viewing the solar eclipse.

Consider these tips for photographing the solar eclipse with your smartphone. Come up with ideas for shooting the eclipse creatively by including people, landscapes, or other objects in the scene.

If you have access to a telescope, you could work with your clients to create a sun funnel.

NASA’s website provides a lot of other activities including math challenges to understand how to predict total solar eclipses and some fun eclipse-related art projects.

Why is this such a big deal?

A solar eclipse has not been viewable in the U.S. mainland since 1979 and the first to span the entire continent since 1918—99 years ago. (And just one year after the founding of occupational therapy!) There won’t be another total solar eclipse until 2024, so this could be a once in a lifetime event for older adults. For younger clients, it is their first glimpse of an awe-inspiring event.

Ancient writers reflected on that powerful moment when light turns to dark and then back again in the span of just hours. The Greek Poet Archilochus in 647 B.C.E. said, “There is nothing beyond hope, nothing that can be sworn impossible, nothing wonderful, since Zeus, father of the Olympians, made night from mid-day, hiding the light of the shining Sun...” Overall, the idea is to keep your head up and looking for brightest spot in sky.

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