Solar Eclipse

On Monday, August 21, students and staff at Westminster Christian Academy will take part in viewing the Great American Solar Eclipse. Because the southern and western portions of the St. Louis metropolitan area are in the path of totality, Westminster will have a rare and amazing opportunity to view this celestial event.

The last time a total solar eclipse occurred in St. Louis was 1442, and the city will not experience another one until 2505. All students, faculty, and staff at Westminster will have the opportunity to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime experience at a special viewing assembly.  

Westminster has purchased eclipse-safe viewing glasses for all students, faculty, and staff.

Students will be dismissed for a worship Chapel at 12:20 p.m. prior to viewing the solar eclipse outside. Gathered in the Arena, we will worship together, review safety instructions, and distribute eclipse viewing glasses. Outside, we will view totality of the eclipse – lasting about 90 seconds. Students will return to class at 1:30 p.m. following the event.

The Wonder of God

“The heavens declare the glory of God!” (Psalm 19:1) There are many theological and scientific truths that we can learn from the eclipse. The first is that beauty and design never just “happen” but are a reflection of an Artist and an Architect. Sometimes that beauty and design is seen in patterns and regularities, and as such can be described (and predicted) by natural laws. Of course, if there are laws, there must be a Law-giver! After all, physical laws cannot create or control, only describe.

Sometimes the beauty and design defies a “naturalistic” explanation because the phenomenon doesn’t have to be this way, and so we infer an Artist or Architect – a mind – as the best explanation. Certainly, the DNA code and the complex nanomachines in our cells are examples of this in biology. In astrophysics, more and more astronomers and physicists (Christian and non-Christian alike) are concluding that the universe not only looks designed but looks designed for us to be here and to study it. This is often called the “fine-tuning” of the universe or the “Goldilocks Principle” since everything seems to be “just right!” Our earth alone is in the narrow habitable zone of the sun, and our sun is in the narrow habitable zone our galaxy. And that’s just a start!

The solar eclipse is a marvelous example of this. With over 180 moons orbiting the main planets and the dwarf planets in our solar system, only our moon can totally eclipse the sun. This requires a very precise relationship between the relative sizes of the sun, moon, and earth, as well as the distances between them. (The sun has a diameter 400 times greater than the moon, and it is 400 times farther away. Therefore, they appear to us like they are the same size.) In addition, the only place where a total eclipse could be observed just “happens” to be the only place where there is life – and intelligent, curious life at that! An eclipse would have been wasted anywhere else.

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Finally, God’s creation is designed in such a way that there are “stepping stones” that allow us to probe deeper and deeper into the complexity of any part of the universe, and a total eclipse is a wonderful example of this. Centuries ago, because of solar eclipses, we were able to learn important principles about stars and space. Examples of these insights include the nature of the sun’s atmosphere, the timing of the earth’s rotation, and more recently the testing of the General Theory of Relativity.  

Those principles then became the foundation for learning other things about space and stars that we could not have known, were this first step not available. (Another example of this in astronomy; if you would like to look it up, is the “distance ladder” in which each “rung” of discovery about the distance to nearby stars sets the stage for figuring out the distance to the next group of stars that are farther away.) God wants us to study and learn, and He designed the universe in such a way so as to make that possible.  

There are no “coincidences,” “accidents,” or chance occurrences when your God is sovereign.  We are blessed! Wherever you are on August 21, join us in worship and praise!

Safety and Opt-Out Form

If you DO NOT want your child to participate in our viewing event, you must opt-out using this form before August 21. Students whose parents choose to opt out their child will view televised coverage inside the school building.

Please be advised that homemade filters, ordinary sunglasses, or other viewing devices other than approved eclipse shades are not safe for looking at the sun. Students will not be allowed to look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun without glasses, which Westminster will provide. Safety is our top priority, and we will take all precautionary measures with both students, faculty, and staff to ensure that this experience is safe and enjoyable.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will Westminster students, faculty, and staff view the eclipse safely?
Westminster will provide glasses for all students, faculty, and staff that meet the CE and ISO requirements for safe viewing.

What precautions are being taken to keep students safe?
Students will be instructed to keep their shades on at all times until an announcement is made that it is safe to take them off at the beginning of totality. After about 90 seconds, another announcement will be made telling students to put their glass back on again. If a student is unable to wear the shades, we recommend other viewing options, such as using a pinhole camera. (Many examples are online, and the end result is that while using the pinhole camera, the student is looking in the exact opposite direction from the sun. Some science and STEM classes may even be constructing variations of this device during the first week of school.   

If you do not want your student to participate, please click here.

Are parents allowed to join the school community viewing event?
Parents are welcome to join our viewing assembly but be advised that traffic is expected to be heavy, parking limited, and parents will be responsible for providing their own glasses.

What is the rain plan for this special event?
In the case of inclement weather, 
we still plan to have a special assembly, and we are anticipating live-streaming the event. Stay tuned!

Resources

www.eclipse2017.org

www.eclipseglasses.com/pages/safety

The Privileged Planet – DVD, website, book