The time is near! And no, not the time until all hell breaks loose, well maybe? It is almost August 21st 2017! I am sure you have heard via your radio, TV or any other sort of news broadcast about the Total Solar Eclipse that is about to happen later this month, but if not, we’re gonna fill you in on everything you need to know! Who knows, maybe you will even make a road trip to see it in prime viewing opportunity?
On August 21st, 2017 the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” will take place from Oregon to South Carolina, approximately 70 miles wide across the path. This is the first total solar eclipse in the U.S. in 26 years! Well, sort of, in 1991 there was a total solar eclipse, but according to NASA’s website, it only crossed over the state of Hawaii. While Hawaii may be a great viewing destination, I am pretty sure most Americans did not flock there. In reality, what I would call the last total solar eclipse was in 1979 as it passed over the continental U.S. from the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains.
The chart below lists the moment of mid-totality and the duration of totality for a handful of cities that lie close to the center of the path. Data from NASA.
|Eclipse Begins||Totality Begins||Totality Ends||Eclipse Ends|
|Madras, OR||09:06 a.m.||10:19 a.m.||10:21 a.m.||11:41 a.m.||PDT|
|Idaho Falls, ID||10:15 a.m.||11:33 a.m.||11:34 a.m.||12:58 p.m.||MDT|
|Casper, WY||10:22 a.m.||11:42 a.m.||11:45 a.m.||01:09 p.m.||MDT|
|Lincoln, NE||11:37 a.m.||01:02 p.m.||01:04 p.m.||02:29 p.m.||CDT|
|Jefferson City, MO||11:46 a.m.||01:13 p.m.||01:15 p.m.||02:41 p.m.||CDT|
|Carbondale, IL||11:52 a.m.||01:20 p.m.||01:22 p.m.||02:47 p.m.||CDT|
|Paducah, KY||11:54 a.m.||01:22 p.m.||01:24 p.m.||02:49 p.m.||CDT|
|Nashville, TN||11:58 a.m.||01:27 p.m.||01:29 p.m.||02:54 p.m.||CDT|
|Clayton, GA||01:06 p.m.||02:35 p.m.||02:38 p.m.||04:01 p.m.||EDT|
|Columbia, SC||01:03 p.m.||02:41 p.m.||02:44 p.m.||04:06 p.m.||EDT|
Because the shadow of the moon will move from west to east, totality will occur later in the day the farther east you travel. Use the NASA interactive eclipse map to find out exactly when totality will occur and how long it will last in the location where you plan to observe the eclipse.
So, like most, you might be curious to exactly what is a total solar eclipse? Because chances are, you didn’t catch the last one in 1979! To keep it simple, a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon appears to completely cover the sun. Even though you may not live near or be able to travel to the path of totality, don’t worry! You will still be able to experience a portion of the solar eclipse. Your viewing will look more like the moon is taking a chunk of the sun. Still pretty nifty!
There are a multitude of ways to watch the eclipse from taking a road trip to several lifestream sites (checkout a list here ). If you’re curious before the big day as to what to expect, NASA has a video for you. During totality, when the sun’s disk is completely covered by the moon, it is safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye. But skywatchers should NEVER look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or even blindness. Please consult proper guidelines for appropriate eyewear.
Please note that all of the following statements about viewing the eclipse are made with two assumptions: (1) “weather permitting”, and (2) you MUST use special eye protection to look at the sun whenever it is n
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