Solar eclipse workshops

This is an “under-two-minute version” of a presentation at ATEM Nishi-Nihon (Osaka Institute of Technology, Umekita Knowledge Center) about my Global Communication and Science workshops.

This year’s conference highlights included Chitoshi Motoyama (Kyoto University of Foreign Studies) on Walt Disney, America and hyperrealism; Aya Luckel-Semoto (Kyoto University) on what “Finding Nemo” and “Pierrot Le Poisson Clown” can teach students about the complexities of plagiarism; and Walter Klinger (my colleague at the University of Shiga Prefecture) on the rhyme that never was in “Frozen”…

Congratulations to Yasushi Nakano, a teacher at Hyogo Prefectural Naruo High School, who won the prize I gave away during my presentation: a Principia mission patch :)


Solar eclipses have always provided ‘teachable moments’.

Two and a half millennia ago, a solar eclipse that had been predicted by the Greek philosopher Thales stopped a battle between the Medes and Lydians.

More recently, Tintin used an eclipse to escape from a South American tribe.

Back in the real world, in 1919, Arthur Eddington travelled to the equatorial island of PrĂ­ncipe to record a total eclipse, and demonstrate that – in accordance with Einstein’s general theory of relativity – the light from stars is bent by the mass of the sun.

An English astronomer, proving the theory of a German physicist, just a few months after the end of the first world war, is one of the great examples of how science truly is a global enterprise.

And this same idea – that science is a unifying force that can bring together people from different parts of the world – is the basis of a project I’m running next year with Tadulako University in Indonesia.

The theme of the project is the solar eclipse of March 9th 2016, which will be a partial eclipse across a large area of Asia and Australia, and a total eclipse in some parts of Indonesia.

We’re running a series of “Global Communication and Science” workshops, that mix astronomy and English-language skills, and connect university students in Indonesia and Japan online for cross-border teamworking activities – including read-throughs of science-fiction movies.

The project is being sponsored by Garuda Indonesia. For more info, please visit

Published by Graham Jones

Astrophysicist and science communicator