Standing in the Light: Rainbow Symphony Blog

Solar System & Astronomy Programs Across the US: A Quick Guide

Astronomy Camp

Our understanding of the solar system, astronomy, and astrophysics has expanded exponentially over the centuries. That is largely thanks to the incredible astronomy programs taught in summer camps and on college campuses.

If you’re interested in pursuing an education in astronomy or a related field, read our guide featuring some of the best programs in the US!

Programs for Students of All Ages

Astronomy Camp | Tucson, Arizona

Astronomy Camp prides itself on being Arizona’s longest-running science camp. Founded in 1988 by astronomer Dr. Don McCarthy (who still serves as director), the camp is open to students of all ages and takes advantage of the clear, dark skies of Southern Arizona. The camp provides students the unique opportunity to explore space from the University of Arizona’s Mount Lemmon Observatory north of Tucson.

Astronomy Camp combines all four STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering, and math – into an immersive experience with a hands-on learning approach. Using real scientists as mentors and teachers and encouraging students to learn through self-driven experiments, Astronomy Camp continues to be one of the country’s most successful solar system studies and astronomy programs.

You do not need a connection to the University of Arizona, nor do you need a background in astronomy to attend the camp.

Club SciKidz | Multiple Locations

Club SciKidz is a STEM-based summer day camp with locations around the US, including Dallas, Atlanta, Maryland, and Virginia. Club SciKidz now offers dozens of camps for various scientific and technological interests, including 3D printing, Minecraft, Mobile Game Design, Building & Engineering, Robotics, and Coding. The camp accepts kids from ages 3.5 to 15, with each type of camp having a recommended age for participation.

Colleges & Universities with Astronomy Programs

Haleakala Observatory

 

The University of Hawaii

Hawaii is famous for its year-round pleasant weather, and as it turns out, that matters when it comes to observing our solar system. The weather conditions are ideal for studying celestial phenomena, which is one reason why the University’s Haleakala Observatory is considered one of the best observation locations in the world. That, and the fact that it is home to the most powerful land-based telescope on Earth!

The telescope’s lens supports clarity of 0.03 arc seconds and still frequently reveals new information about the solar system and astronomy in general. The scope is so powerful that it is managed, in part, by agencies like NASA, the Air Force, and the Department of Defense

The observatory is not open to the general public, so you need to have special permission to access its tools. If that’s not a reason for an aspiring astronomer to apply, I don’t know what is.

New Mexico State University

The Apache Point Observatory, located in the Sacramento Mountains, is operated and managed by New Mexico State University – through several universities in New Mexico co-own the facility and have access to it.

The facility boasts four powerful telescopes that range in size from 0.5m to 3.5m and are equipped with advanced technology to explore the solar system using different imaging techniques, including infrared, spectroscopy, and photometry. Three of the telescopes include a Ritchy-Chretien reflector that allows for deep-sky exploration. Fun fact: the first digital layout of the Milky Way was mapped at Apache Point!

The observatory is made available for Astronomy graduate students and faculty to use, so you’ll need to be in the advanced solar system astronomy program to take advantage of this facility.

Berkeley campus overview from hills

The University of California at Berkeley

UC Berkeley has what is consistently ranked as the country’s top astronomy and astrophysics programs. The famed university’s highly competitive program focuses on providing its students with intense research and lab experience, analytical skills, and hands-on observation.

The state-of-the-art facilities are among the best in the world, and astronomy majors are given access to the David D Cudaback Undergraduate Lab. This 1600 square foot lab is packed with equipment and research archives. Plus, students are invited to join the Space Exploration Society at Berkeley, which works with SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence group, among others.

It’s worth noting that UC Berkeley and CalTech jointly operate the Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. This iconic observatory utilizes two telescopes, each eight stories tall, with one using an optical lens and the other using infrared technology to scan the night sky with unrivaled precision.

If you’re studying the solar system as an astronomy student at Berkeley, you may find yourself spending spring break in Hawaii…

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

For those who are truly committed to a career in astronomy, astrophysics, or becoming an astronaut, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the brass ring. With campuses in Prescott, Arizona and Daytona Beach, Florida, the school specializes in aviation and aerospace disciplines.

The school’s Prescott Observatory Complex in Arizona offers students and faculty a clear view of the night sky. The facility is equipped with optical and radio telescopes, as well as a separate radio observatory to pick up signals that may be passing through the sky.

The observatory is used on a nightly basis by students and professors alike, so if you really want to get a hands-on education, this may be the program for you.

Pursue Your Passion

Rainbow Symphony is dedicated to providing the educational resources and tools you need to pursue your passion for the planets and the stars! That’s why we offer an extensive selection of high-quality eclipse viewing glasses, solar astronomy educational tools, and more.

If you have any questions about our products or how to use them to further your studying for solar system, astronomy, or astrophysics, reach out to us at rainbowsymphony@rainbowsymphony.com and we’ll be happy to help!

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Solar “Viewing” Glasses: 4 Reasons to View The Sun (That Aren't an Eclipse)

Glasses

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have been looking up to the heavens with an unwavering curiosity. While science has helped us understand our solar system – and our place in that solar system – there is still so much for us to learn. That’s why, to this day, we can’t help but seek out answers to those age-old questions through thoughtful study and careful exploration – especially when it comes to questions about the Sun!

But did you know that you don’t have to wait for a solar eclipse to study the Sun? That’s right! You can use your solar viewing glasses to study and observe the Sun each and every day, and a wealth of knowledge to be discovered. There are many reasons to view the Sun that don’t involve a solar eclipse, so let’s take a look at a few of them below.

1. Understand Our Climate

As our climate here on Earth continues to change, it’s important to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the Sun and its impact on our climate. For example, did you know that millions of years ago, the Sun was much dimmer than it appears today? And yet, the Earth was not frozen; the oceans were still liquid water! What does that tell us about the connection between the energy produced by the Sun and the atmosphere of the Earth?

Astronomers tell us that, over the course of millions of years, the light produced by the Sun has actually changed. While that light variation may not be visible to the naked eye, it is nevertheless interesting to use your solar viewing glasses to observe the Sun on a semi-regular basis and consider the quality of its light.

2. Learn About Solar Winds & Flares

surface of the sun

You probably didn’t realize it, but the Sun gives off a flow of gases that blow over the Earth at speeds of a million miles per hour! No, it’s not that breeze you’re seeing through the trees; this is what’s known as ‘solar wind’, and it can have an impact on certain aspects of life here on Earth.

The normal flow of solar wind over the Earth doesn’t have much of an impact. However, on occasion, a sudden burst of excess energy called a solar flare can release additional radiation in the form of x-rays and ultraviolet light, and that radiation can cause our upper atmosphere to heat up and even cause disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field!

So, how does this affect us humans? The warming caused by the excess radiation and those disturbances in magnetic fields can disrupt – and sometimes damage – satellites in orbit. Because these satellites are critical for telecommunications, weather tracking, and national security, a disruption from solar flares could cause some pretty big problems.

Another concern related to solar flares is the impact on our electrical system. In the past, some larger solar flares have caused surges in power grids, knocking out some power lines and equipment for large areas across the Earth.

The more we can predict solar flares by studying the behavior of the Sun and its solar wind, the easier it will be to make necessary adjustments and protect our satellites and our electrical grids from damage and disruption.

3. Study the Stars

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the Sun is a star! In fact, it’s the only star that’s close enough for us to see the details of its surface (the next closest star system, Alpha Centauri, is 4.37 light-years away from the Sun!). That’s important to unlocking mysteries about other solar bodies in our galaxy and, indeed, across the universe.

Because the Sun is so close, we can observe some amazing things about its structure and its behavior. For example, we know that the surface of the sun has spots (known as ‘sun spots’) and that it is a nearly perfect spherical shape! Over time, through careful observation, we’ve learned that the Sun is approximately 4.6 billion years old, that the energy given off by the Sun is produced through nuclear fusion, and that the Sun accounts for 99.86% of all mass in our solar system.

As you begin your journey studying the Sun with your solar viewing glasses and learning more about stars, what new discoveries will you make?

4. Tap Into Your Inner Photographer

Sun Viewing Glasses

The Sun is an endlessly fascinating subject for photographers. The gradual changes in the appearance of its surface, the position of the Earth at any given moment, and the environment in which you’re taking the photos create an opportunity to capture a unique photograph each and every time.

In order to photograph the Sun safely and effectively, you need to use solar filters on the lens of your telescope or camera. We offer solar filters to fit various size photographic lenses that offer the level of protection you need while still providing a crystal clear view of the Sun.

Choose the Right Sun Viewing Glasses

At Rainbow Symphony, we believe in providing you with the highest quality educational tools you need to pursue your passion for learning.

We offer a wide range of solar viewing glasses so you can choose the pair that best suits your needs. All of our solar glasses are CE certified and compliant with the standard for ISO 12312-2:2015.

If you plan to observe the Sun with some frequency, you’ll want a durable pair of sun viewing glasses like our wrap-around plastic eclipse glasses or plastic eclipse shades. Our plastic clip-on shades are ideal for anyone who wears prescription glasses, and our selection of paper eclipse glasses are a great low-cost alternative for anyone buying in bulk.

Place Your Order Today

Our company was founded by dedicated eclipse chasers on a mission to share the wonders of nature with the rest of the world. If you can’t wait for the next solar eclipse to indulge your planetary passion, we understand! That’s why we offer a complete line of solar viewing glasses, filters, and other tools to help you pursue your hobby. Place your order today… and start studying the Sun tomorrow!

If you have any questions about our products, don’t hesitate to contact us by phone at 818-708-8400, or by email at rainbowsymphony@rainbowsymphony.com

Fun Ways to Have an Amazing Hometown Eclipse Party

The next total solar eclipse to be observable from the United States will be on April 8, 2024. The path of totality runs from the Northeast through the Midwest and across Central and Western Texas, with the center line cutting through some of the best towns in America. If you happen to live in one of those towns, the total eclipse is a great opportunity to show off what you’re neck of the woods has to offer, and you may even be able to throw an eclipse party that celebrates your hometown pride.

Here are a few of the towns that will fall within the path of totality for the total eclipse in 2024, and some ways that you can make the most of the experience, whether you’re a resident or just visiting.

Rochester, New York

Both Rochester and Buffalo lie within the path of totality for the 2024 total eclipse, but Rochester is a bit closer to the “center line,” making this an ideal location to experience the eclipse in full. Located along the shores of Lake Ontario in Western New York, Rochester has plenty of culture to explore, including Park Avenue and the Arts Neighborhood, and plenty of places to observe the eclipse, including the Highland Park Botanical Gardens and Genesee Valley Park near the University of Rochester.

If you live in Rochester, consider working with the Highland Park Botanical Gardens to throw an eclipse experience event that combines learning about nature both on the ground and in the skies above! Plus, by hosting your eclipse party in the botanical gardens, you are likely to hear the soundscape of the animals change as the Moon passes in front of the Sun!

Indianapolis, Indiana

Don’t think Indy can handle hosting an eclipse party? Think again! Indianapolis is home to the largest sports venue in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a capacity of 400,000 spectators. In addition to the enormous racetrack, Indy boasts a world-class zoo, Children’s Museum, and a revitalized downtown, complete with restaurants and breweries.

If you’re an Indiana resident and want to see something special for the 2024 eclipse, why not hit up those local breweries to see who can come up with a unique eclipse-themed beer to celebrate the event? That way, you can experience the eclipse through yet another sense – taste!

Carbondale, Illinois

With a population of 25,000, Carbondale may not be the biggest city on this list, but it certainly holds a rare position as one of the few places that was in the path of totality in 2017 and will once again be right along the center line in 2024.

If you live in Carbondale, the 2024 eclipse is a wonderful opportunity to share your salt of the earth culture with the hoards of eclipse chasers who will be visiting this time around. Who knows – maybe you can even work with the city to dub your town the Eclipse Capital of the United States to draw an even bigger eclipse gathering!

Dallas, Texas

Dallas is the biggest metropolitan area on this list and, along with its neighbors Austin and San Antonio, is sure to be a popular destination for the 2024 eclipse. But the April 8 date has the chance to be extra special for anyone who has a love of not just eclipses, but baseball, too.

The Texas Rangers are considering hosting Opening Day in Dallas on the day of the eclipse and distributing paper eclipse glasses to everyone who attends the game on that day. While these plans have not been finalized, you can do your part if you’re a Dallas native by writing to the Rangers organization and letting them know you think it’s a good idea to have an Opening Day eclipse gathering.

The ballpark is certainly not the only spot in Dallas where you can throw a massive public eclipse party. Klyde Warren Park, located in downtown Dallas, is no stranger to hosting special events year-round, while Lakeside Park and its Teddy Bear statues make it a great destination for kids to experience the eclipse, learn a thing or two, and have a blast!

Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland is a city on the rise, and with its position right along the center line during the 2024 eclipse, it has a great opportunity to make the most of its comeback. The Cleveland Indians are also set to play their 2024 season home opener around April 8. The fact that two Major League Baseball teams happen to be within the path of totality may actually convince the head honchos at the MLB Commissioners’ Office to approve hosting an eclipse experience at their respective ballparks.

In addition to Progressive Field, there are plenty of places where Cleveland could host a-rockin’ good time… like the pavilion surrounding the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame on the lakefront! Edgewater Park and Wendy Park are also fantastic options to catch a spring breeze off of the lake while experiencing every aspect of the total solar eclipse.

Be Prepared… to Have Fun!

Wherever you choose to experience the 2024 eclipse, you won’t want to show up unprepared. If you’re hosting a large eclipse party, you’ll want to stock up early on paper eclipse glasses. Affordable eclipse eyewear options can be ordered in bulk for large groups and come in different colors.

If you’re stocking up for yourself, consider investing in something a little more durable that better suits your specific needs, such as our plastic eclipse shades, wrap-around eclipse goggles, or clip-on eclipse glasses.

If you have any questions about our products or need information about how to observe an eclipse safely, don’t hesitate to reach out at rainbowsymphony@rainbowsymphony.com.

The “Center Line” Eclipse Gear Guide | Where You Can See an Eclipse

If you’re interested in seeing an eclipse from the best possible vantage point, you need to seek out what is known as the “center line.” This is where you can see the eclipse for the longest amount of time. Why?

If we imagine the shadow cast by the Moon as a line, that line is what is known as the path of totality. But if you’re able to get as close as possible to the center of the path of totality, you’ll be able to see the eclipse for a longer period of time; if the duration of the eclipse closer to the edge of the path of totality is two minutes, the eclipse from the “center line” may last three minutes! Whether this is your first eclipse or you’ve seen a dozen in your lifetime, you probably want to maximize the amount of time you have underneath the Moon’s shadow, or the umbra.

That said, if you’re going to observe the eclipse from somewhere along the “center line,” you probably want to be prepared. After all, you’ll be surrounded by other passionate eclipse chasers, and you’ll want to take advantage of the experience as much as possible.

Let’s take a look at some of the eclipse gear you need to be totally prepared for spending some time inside the path of totality!

Eclipse Shades

First things first: you need proper eyewear if you’re planning on looking at the eclipse. At Rainbow Symphony, we carry only CE and ISO certified eclipse eyewear. That means all of our eclipse eyewear meets the ISO standard for safe eclipse viewing, so long as you follow proper safety measures.

Our collection of eclipse viewing equipment includes:

Most of these items are available to order in bulk for large groups, such as eclipse community groups or classrooms.

Educational Materials

Bring along some educational materials, such as textbooks, diagrams, or PDF print-outs, that explain the science of an eclipse. These can be helpful resources to remind your group – and yourself – of exactly what is transpiring in the heavens above. After the eclipse has waned, you can again refer to these diagrams to make sure the educational component of the experience sticks for good.

Maybe you simply want to bring some books or stories that put you in the eclipse-viewing mood! Whether that’s Twilight, Goodnight, Moon, Seveneves, or some other celestial-related reading material, the choice is yours!

Folding Chairs and Blankets

If you’re headed to the “center line,” be aware that you’re headed to a popular observation area where not only you can see the eclipse the best, but so can everyone else! Therefore, you’ll want to get there early and get comfy. Some lightweight, easy-to-carry folding chairs are a must, and for large groups, spreading out a blanket or some towels can give you all the space you need.

Appropriate Clothing

Dress for the occasion – and by that, we don’t necessarily mean you need to dress up… unless you want to! While the solar eclipse itself typically lasts about five minutes, you’ll want to head to your slice of the “center line” early to get a good spot, and you may end up sticking around for a little while after to chat with fellow eclipse chasers. You’ll be checking the forecast for cloud coverage leading up to the big day, so be sure you’re tracking the temperature, too!

Digital Camera with Solar Filters

Whether you’re a novice or a professional, if you plan to take photographs of the eclipse, you must be prepared with proper solar filters. These enable you to photograph the event from where you can see the eclipse begin, when the Moon begins to pass between the Earth and the Sun, during the maximum magnitude, and through the end.

Our Eclipse Shades® Solar Filters include options for various sized lenses and are a low-cost alternative to aluminum cell and glass filters.

Binoculars and Telescopes

If you want to take a closer look at the appearance of the Moon and the Sun during the solar eclipse, you may want to bring a pair of binoculars or a telescope. However, unless you’re using specially designed eclipse-ready gear, you’ll need to make some simple customizations to the lenses using solar filters the way you would with a camera.

The Extras...

Don’t forget the extras, like music, snacks, and sunblock. That’s right, sunblock! Remember, at the “center line,” you’ll be hanging out for a bit before and after the event, and that means you’ll be out in the sun for a while.

You may want to grab a cozy pillow, a journal and some writing instruments, and some water to stay hydrated. Whatever you choose to bring, make sure it’s all relatively portable to make carrying it in and out of the “center line” observation zone easy.

A Sense of Childlike Wonder

Last but not least, be sure to bring your sense of childlike wonder! It’s easy to be jaded by the celestial movements that take place every day and every night. But if you’re making the effort to head the “center line” – to where you can see the eclipse the best – you should take the opportunity to reflect on just how amazing it is that we can see other planetary bodies from here on Earth.

What’s equally amazing is that we as human beings have the knowledge we need to understand exactly what is happening during a solar eclipse – and the eclipse gear we need to see it all so clearly.