St. Cecilia Academy anticipates August 21 solar eclipse

The excitement mounts daily at St. Cecilia Academy where students and faculty are preparing for the total solar eclipse set to occur on Monday, August 21, 2017. Tennessee is one of 14 states that will experience approximately two minutes of darkness. Students and teachers at St. Cecilia are preparing eagerly to see this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event. View the official press release here.

Preparations for the eclipse

St. Cecilia students Catherine Johnson, Tess Scherrer, Mary Grace Urbanczyk, and Jule Voss have been building sun funnels over the summer with science department chair and former Vanderbilt research scientist, Mr. Charles Martinez, in the St. Cecilia Academy research lab. These sun funnels will project shadow images of the sun through a telescope so that the whole student body can safely view the eclipse. Over the week leading up to the eclipse, these juniors will collect and focus the sunlight to produce the shadow images so multiple people can safely view the partial eclipse phases simultaneously.

Instructions to build your own sun funnel here.

100th Anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady at Fatima

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady to three poor shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 and is one of the most incredible events of the twentieth century. The message of Fatima is one of prayer, reparation and hope. It is notable that Nashville's own celestial event happens during this centenary celebration. Moreover, the total solar eclipse will take place on August 21, which is the feast in the modern Western church calendar of St. Pius X, pope (1903-14) and vigilant defender of the faith.


August 21, 2017

On the morning of the eclipse, St. Cecilia will welcome alumna Suzanne Eastwood ’16, a student at Georgia Institute of Technology who is studying aerospace engineering. Eastwood is currently working on developing an inflatable satellite in order to help map asteroid geography, a project that extends the independent research she began during her senior year at St. Cecilia. When she is not working on her coursework, Eastwood has been visiting Atlanta-area schools and businesses to share the importance of this solar eclipse and how local residents can view it safely. During the St. Cecilia all-school assembly, Eastwood will share her love of the heavens and encourage the students to take full advantage of this historical celestial moment.

In way to partner with NASA and to participate in NASA’s Citizen Science initiative that collects data through the entire America eclipse path, science students at St. Cecilia Academy will plan and implement a variety of observational studies to record just prior to, during, and immediately following the total blackout phase of the eclipse. Advanced Placement Biology students, for example, will measure the air temperature throughout the eclipse, predicting the temperature to drop by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit as day turns into night. Collected data will be submitted to NASA researchers to study how our solar-powered planet is affected by this event.

Moon themed tunes will fill the halls during passing periods, and one history teacher will present on connections between the total eclipse and the miracle of the sun during this 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance at Fatima.

To ensure a safe viewing of the partial phases of the eclipse, all students will be provided with custom, ISO-certified solar glasses to protect from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet and infrared rays of light. Additionally, as the shadows become visible, the entire school will gather for a viewing party in the St. Cecilia Academy courtyard, where telescopes and sun funnels will be stationed for students to view.


For additional information about the eclipse:

NY Times article on 1919 eclipse
NASA Eclipse 2017
Celestron (a telescope Company
Vimeo simulation of eclipse path
NPR Science Friday segment
National Geographic

St. Cecilia Academy    |    4210 Harding Pike    |    Nashville, TN 37205    |    (615) 298-4525    |    info@stcecilia.edu
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