On Aug. 21, 2017, people across the United States will see the sun disappear behind the moon, turning daylight into twilight, causing the temperature drop rapidly and revealing massive streamers of light streaking through the sky around the silhouette of the moon. On Aug. 21, 2017 America will fall under the path of a total solar eclipse.
The 2017 eclipse is already being called the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” and many people are extremely excited for this one, some have been waiting decades to see it!
If you want to get the most out of the mid-August eclipse, you’ll need to plan ahead and know all about what to expect and most importantly how to protect yourself from it.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a shadow over Earth. A solar eclipse can only take place at the phase of new moon, when the moon passes directly between the sun and Earth and its shadows fall upon Earth’s surface. But whether the alignment produces a total solar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse or an annular solar eclipse depends on several factors.
For this upcoming great American total solar eclipse the path of totality happens to pass beautifully across a number of states in a narrow arc which will be approximately 75 miles wide. It starts up on the Pacific Northwest coast of Oregon and travels over and down on a southeasterly bend crossing over parts of Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Georgia, before ending in South Carolina. According to Space.com skywatching columnist Joe Rao, approximately 12 million people live in the narrow path of totality and a further 220 million live within a one day drive of it.
Those who are lucky enough to experience the eclipse in the path of totality will have anywhere between a few seconds and 2 minutes and 44 seconds of it, which is the longest period of totality according to data provided by the US Naval Observatory on their official eclipse page. In case you’re wondering, the exact spot with the greatest duration is located somewhere within the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois.
Now remember, all views of the eclipse are based on 2 crucial factors. One is the weather and the second is eye protection. It’s no myth! Eye protection is essential and crucial for anyone who plans on looking directly at this magical moment. You should wear protective glasses at all cost if you plan to look at the eclipse. Not just a regular sunglasses, and don’t even thing about looking through binoculars!
As we all know the rule to never stare at the sun, looking at the solar eclipse needs special care to be taken. Because the sun is partly covered by the moon, people think it’s easier to look at it. They feel the need to blink less and their pupils are also less likely to contract instinctively, like how they otherwise would do on a normal bright day. Instead they may even dilate, allowing infra red light waves in the eyes, which can seriously burn the retina and even fry it. The risk is real people!
Gazing directly at the sun’s photosphere, the bright disc, for any amount of time can and will result in damage to our fragile eyes. So please invest in a pair of specially designed eclipse glasses that filter the sun. I ordered these, and I am so excited waiting for them to arrive!
The solar eclipse Googles should be worn for the entire duration of the eclipse, especially for the vast majority of us who are not in the path of totality and who will instead experience a partial solar eclipse. The only real safe time to look directly at the sun without protection is during the fleeting window of totality when it’s completely covered by the moon.
Now that you know almost everything about the August 2017 solar eclipse, you can mark your calendar and have something really neat and astronomically cool to look forward to!
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience first hand but if you want to view it in the path of totality, plan accordingly because hundreds of thousands of other people are doing exactly that. In the end, it all comes down to being in the right place at the right time!
Be prepared, plan ahead, and be sure to check out the helpful eclipse maps to find out more specific details.
Simulation: Total Solar Eclipse U.S.A. Aug 21st, 2017:
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