Solar Eclipse Causes Concern

Will the solar eclipse break the Internet?

They've been called harbingers of doom, often believed to be portents of great change. Throughout history, solar eclipses have attracted attention and stirred up fears. Many early populations feared that the sun would never return and that the eclipse signaled the end of the world. As our understanding of astronomy grew, our perceptions of eclipses changed too. On August 21, a total solar eclipse is scheduled to be seen in many parts of North America. Those areas that won't have a total eclipse will still be treated to a partial one.

We know now that the world won't come to an end, but there are still fears that surround eclipses. In this case, some are concerned that the eclipse will break the Internet. However, if it happens, it won't be because of something the sun did, it will be because of all the pictures and videos people are expected to be uploading and sharing! Nashville, Tennessee is right in the path of the total eclipse and television station WKRN reviews potential problems the community may experience due to an influx of visitors and increased demand for cell and Internet service.

Supporting Web Links

Discussion Questions/Activities
  1. Ask students if they plan to view the eclipse. If it's already occurred, did students see it? What methods will (or did) students use to observe it? What impact did the eclipse have on cellular and Internet communications?
  2. Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to choose a location in the United States that will be (or was) in the path of the total eclipse. What special accommodations did the impacted community make to prepare for the eclipse and the influx of visitors? If the eclipse has already occurred, were these plans sufficient? What more could be or should have been done? Each group should create a presentation to share their findings with the class.
  3. As an individual project, ask students to research another time that a solar event or another celestial or space-related object or event has impacted technology. Students should write a brief article about their findings.


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