Science-Savvy Grandparents Explain Solar Eclipse in New Children’s Book

Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz have written an example-filled children’s book for astronomy enthusiasts of all ages to learn and then teach others about the science behind the upcoming Aug. 21 solar eclipse.

Credit: The National Teachers Association

In the children’s book “When the Sun Goes Dark” (NSTA Kids, 2017), 12-year-old Diana and her little brother, Sammy, meet up with their colorfully attired grandparents. When Diana asks them why they are dressed as tourists and why they are touting large cameras, they tell their story of a recent trip to view a solar eclipse. Using household items like a Hula-Hoop, the grandparents teach the kids about the science of eclipses.

The book’s illustrations, by artist Eric Freeberg, accompany the tale of scientific learning written by science educators Andrew Fraknoi and Dennis Schatz. The book couldn’t come at a more appropriate time: Like the grandparents in the story, millions of people are expected to travel to see the upcoming Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, whose shadow will pass across 14 states in the continental U.S.

Fraknoi has worked in several capacities to educate the public: He is the lead author of “Astronomy” (Open Stax, 2016), an introductory college textbook, and is the moderator of the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures at Foothill College in California, where he teaches. He has received many awards — and had an asteroid named after him by the International Astronomical Union — for his contributions to the popularization of astronomy. [Fake Solar Eclipse Glasses Are Flooding the Market: How to Stay Safe]

In an interview with, Fraknoi said that having the grandparents in the book tell the story of the total solar eclipse highlights an important reality about astronomy education today: the role of intermediaries. Fraknoi…

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