16Aug2017

What’s So Special About This Year’s Solar Eclipse

 

historical
If you live in the United States, then you have the opportunity to witness one of our planet’s most awe-inspiring sights on Monday, August 21st, 2017: a total solar eclipse.

If you’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about this year’s solar eclipse, but you don’t know why it’s such a big deal, we’ll let in on the secret: no matter where you live in North America, you’ll be able to witness this astonishing celestial event in total or partial glory.

Solar Eclipses Aren’t Rare, But Each One is Special

Contrary to what some believe, a solar eclipse isn’t an extremely rare event. In fact, solar eclipses occur 2 to 4 times per year. It’s the location that makes it special.

The area of totality (where the moon fully covers the sun from view) typically doesn’t stretch very far–meaning that only individuals in a relatively small area can witness a particular solar eclipse in its full glory.

If you travel, you can observe quite a few total solar eclipses in your lifetime, but if you stay in one city for most of your life, the odds of witnessing a total solar eclipse more than once are very low.

This Year’s Solar Eclipse is a Rare Sight for the United States

One of the main reasons your friends and family are excited about this year’s solar eclipse is because everyone residing in the United States has front row tickets. The path of totality for this solar eclipse stretches clear across the middle of the United States, from one coast to the other.

Millions of individuals who live in that path, or near it, have the opportunity to witness a once in a lifetime event, and those who live outside the path will still be able to experience a partial solar eclipse–where the moon only covers part of the sun’s light from view.

For an inclination of how rare this occurrence is, the last time a total eclipse crossed the entire country, coast-to-coast, it was 1918!

Viewing the Total Solar Eclipse: Where & When

The path of totality for this solar eclipse stretches from Lincoln Beach, Oregon all the way to Charleston, South Carolina. According to NASA, the first point of contact will occur in Lincoln Beach at 9:05 am PDT, and totality will begin at 10:16 am PDT.

After it leaves Oregon, the total solar eclipse will travel through Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and finally South Carolina. The path of totality will end near Charleston at 2:48 pm EDT, and the lunar shadow will leave the United States at 4:09 pm EDT.

Everyone in North America will be able to witness either a total or partial solar eclipse, and some individuals who live in South America, Africa, and Europe will be able to get a glimpse of the partial Solar Eclipse, as well. Look up a time schedule to see when the eclipse will be viewable in your area!

Don’t Forget to Protect Your Eyes!

Our sun pours out more ultraviolet light than the human eye can handle. On a regular day, the pain you feel when looking into the sun will deter your gaze before much damage is done to your retinas. However, during a total solar eclipse, your eyes are tricked into thinking it’s safe.

You can technically view the moment of totality without protection, but it’s still very dangerous. When the sun’s corona peeks out from behind the moon, a direct hit of ultraviolet light will flood your retinas, causing serious damage.

For your safety, do NOT watch the solar eclipse without proper eye protection! Invest in a pair of eclipse shades or build your own pinhole projector.

Mark Your Calendars!

Now that you know what’s so special about this year’s solar eclipse–and how you can safely watch it–don’t forget to mark your calendars! In the meantime, commemorate this stunning celestial event with one of these amazing outer space posters. Go here to view their amazing web products click

Many of these posters feature high-resolution photos of real-life celestial events, originally captured by some of our world’s most advanced deep sky imaging telescopes. These events can’t be seen with the naked eye, and they’ll give you plenty to ooh and ahh at before the big day!

Written and submitted by: Scott Wolff

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