Bronxville News

Bronxville’s Young Astronomers Explore Solar Eclipse in Planetarium
Bronxville, NY

As elementary school students gathered inside their school’s own planetarium and looked up at a simulation of the solar eclipse, the atmosphere was charged with excitement. Under the expertise of middle school science teacher Frank Viggiani and elementary school science teachers Susan Monaco and Stephanie Kennedy, kindergarten through fifth grade students had an enriching learning experience on April 3 and 4. The lessons were designed to prepare them for the eagerly anticipated schoolwide solar eclipse viewing on April 8.

“The lesson was to demonstrate to the students the time of the eclipse, especially the maximum eclipse for Bronxville which will be around 91% at 3:25 p.m.,” Viggiani said. “We were able to see the entire eclipse while we zoomed in on the sun.”

During the experience, the students delved into the realms of Jupiter and explored the various constellations. Additionally, they engaged in meaningful discussions surrounding the need for solar eclipse glasses to safeguard their vision during the eclipse. Prior to the April 8 event, the elementary school students made UV bracelets to wear during the solar eclipse.

“As teachers we wanted to take full advantage of the learning opportunity that the solar eclipse has presented,” Monaco said. “Visiting the planetarium and experiencing a simulation of the solar eclipse as it will appear in Bronxville not only helped the students gain a better understanding of how the sun, earth and moon interact with each other, but also led to piqued curiosity and interest about outer space.”

Bronxville’s planetarium, known as the Digitarium Zeta, was funded through the generous support of the Bronxville School Foundation in 2011. The high-resolution digital, inflatable planetarium can be programmed to show star and planet motion for various dates, times and locations for teaching astronomy at the elementary, middle and high school levels.