Early tomorrow morning (31 January) there will be a lunar eclipse, visible in its totality in far western North America, the Pacific, and East Asia, but only in partiality in the contiguous United States.
Everything you need to know—from timing, to geographical coverage, to animations of the phases of the eclipse—is available on the wonderful timeanddate.com website:
If the weather is cloudy or you’re out of range, you can even watch a live broadcast of the eclipse at the link above.
And while you’re making your homeschool astronomical for a little while, why not also make it poetical and introduce your students to this little sonnet-masterpiece by the great English poet Thomas Hardy (1840–1928):
At a Lunar Eclipse
Thy shadow, Earth, from Pole to Central Sea,
Now steals along upon the Moon’s meek shine
In even monochrome and curving line
Of imperturbable serenity.
How shall I link such sun-cast symmetry
With the torn troubled form I know as thine,
That profile, placid as a brow divine,
With continents of moil and misery?
And can immense Mortality but throw
So small a shade, and Heaven’s high human scheme
Be hemmed within the coasts yon arc implies?
Is such the stellar gauge of earthly show,
Nation at war with nation, brains that teem,
Heroes, and women fairer than the skies?
¶ Count and map: When you introduce your students to a new poem, especially one in a traditional form, the first thing to have them do is count the syllables and map the rhyme scheme. How many syllables in each line in this poem? Ten throughout. (And that gives you a clue about how certain words should be pronounced: Heaven’s is one long syllable, not two.) The ten syllables in each line follow a generally iambic pattern, with the accent on the second syllable of each pair. That makes this poem iambic pentameter. What about the rhyme scheme? The first two stanzas are sea–shine–line–serenity and symmetry–thine–divine–misery. That looks like A–B–B–A, A–B–B–A. The next six lines follow a different pattern: C–D–E, C–D–E. Uncovering these details of structure teaches your students that a poem of this kind is not the result of some sort of spontaneous imaginative outburst on the part of the poet; it is instead an intricately crafted piece of work that required a great deal of labor.