Have you ever been fortunate enough to view a total solar eclipse? No? Well, if you live anywhere from Governor’s Point, OR to Charleston, SC you could be one of the lucky ones to see it! The moon’s shadow will cover a 70 mile-wide path of totality on Monday, August 21, 2017 starting at 10:15 am PST. People are already making their travel plans for the huge weekend; campgrounds, viewing parties and hotels are filling up quickly. But, first, there are a few things you should know about this 2017 solar eclipse.
During the eclipse, the moon will pass in front of the sun blocking its light entirely during a total solar eclipse and you can see the corona, the sun’s outer atmosphere. The corona isn’t just an obscure haze but rather people have seen ribbons and jets of light that curl and twist in the sky; truly a beautiful sight.
During this time, it’ll appear as if it’s night and the temperature will even drop. The eclipse confuses the animals and plants into thinking it’s bedtime—flowers will close and birds will go back to their nests.
Path of Totality Is Where You Ought to Be
You just can’t seem to get close enough to observe a total solar eclipse. The moon’s shadow creates a path around 70 miles wide during this eclipse and this is known as the Path of Totality. If you happen to be under the moon’s shadow—inside the totality path—then you’re sure to behold an astonishing sight where day turns into night for a little while.
Partial Eclipse Sightings
If you just won’t be able to make it to a spot in the Path of Totality, you can still view a partial eclipse. It won’t be as stunning as a total eclipse, but it is still super cool. You can observe a partial eclipse in all of Canada and the United States, including Hawaii and Alaska!
It Will Be Quick!
The moon’s shadow will be speeding across the surface of the Earth at a whopping 1,800 mph! If you can get to a good elevation in the Appalachian or Rocky Mountains you just might be able to witness the shadow shooting over the planet’s surface—but don’t blink or you’ll miss it! With speeds like that it isn’t any wonder why the solar eclipse will be quick. You could try to snap a picture with a solar filter over your camera’s lens—but you might not have time. If you’re along the edge of the Path of Totality you could have up to a full minute to watch the total solar eclipse; viewers on the centerline will get two minutes. So it’s best to just relax and enjoy the event, because chances are you won’t see it again!
Weather Is a Factor
Just because you’re camped out in your backyard or in one of the states between OR and SC it doesn’t mean you’ll see anything if it’s cloudy that day. So you’ll have to be ready to move and have a back-up plan. Past weather conditions indicate that Oregon, Nebraska, Idaho and Wyoming are terrific states for clear viewing.
Travel Will Be At a Standstill
Do you hate traffic jams? There’ll be millions of people on the roads and highways on the outskirts of the Path of Totality just to catch a glimpse of the colossal event—and then there’s all the millions living inside the Path of Totality that could be on the roads. You’re not going to be able to plan for it, get around it or skip it. So bring lots of books for your children—and yourself.
To avoid all the traffic, reserving a hotel room on Sunday and/or Monday night that’s close to your observation spot is a great idea; then head home Tuesday. However, if you must travel home on Monday, stay alert and patient in the overflowing traffic.
So what makes this such a special event? The last total solar eclipse seen by the continental U.S. was in 1979; yet it was only the far northwest that could see it. If that doesn’t make this eclipse exceptional enough then here’s another piece of trivia. The last coast to coast solar eclipse in the U.S., such as this one, took place in 1918!
Western KY Has Longest Viewing
If you live in (or are vacationing in) Hopkinsville, KY, consider yourself very fortunate. This town has the longest viewing time of the total solar eclipse than any other destination—a walloping 2 minutes and 40 seconds! Of course, the townsfolk are pulling out all the stops to create a grandiose viewing party.
This Eclipse Might Be the Most-Viewed
It’s believed that hundreds of millions of people will see this eclipse. How do we know this? It’s based on four elements: 1)The awesome expanse of our country’s highway system, 2) an abundance of people who can enter large, nearby cities, 3) the news media’s reports, and 4) the normal weather for that date.
Protect Your Eyesight!
We’ve all had it happen—driving home from work at dusk only to have the sun suddenly in our eyes. Your eyes hurt, they may water and you see spots of yellow or orange halos; but that’s mild when you compare it to the harm you could do to your eyes if you watch the eclipse without solar safety glasses. You can take the your glasses off during totality, according to NASA, but if you’re not sure when that is, don’t risk it.
It’s important to know that solar safety glasses and sunglasses aren’t the same. If you’re in full sunlight and can see things through the solar safety glasses then they aren’t really solar safety glasses; you’ll see that true solar safety glasses make everything almost black in daylight. You can check out you local public library or Warby Parker for a free pair of solar eclipse viewers, or buy some online.