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August 21, 2017 | Total Solar Eclipse

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10 things to know about the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse

Something rare and awesome is about to happen in the U.S. On Aug. 21 there will be a total solar eclipse, and if you live in the path of totality, you will have the opportunity to have your day turned to night as the moon will totally block out the sun. Here are 10 things you should know about the eclipse.

 

  1. The total solar eclipse will take place at around 1 p.m. EDT in South Carolina, 11:46 a.m. CDT in Missouri and 10:15 a.m. PDT in Idaho.
  2. Along the “path of totality” — where the eclipse will be seen the best — the total solar eclipse will last for about 2 1/2 minutes.
  3. The path of totality will darken the skies from South Carolina to Oregon.
  4. The total solar eclipse will cast a 70-mile wide shadow.
  5. Those outside the path of totality will witness a partial solar eclipse — rest assured, it will still be cool.
  6. The last total solar eclipse viewed from the contiguous U.S. was Feb. 26, 1979.
  7. The total solar eclipse of June 8, 1918, crossed a similar path, traveling from Florida to Washington.
  8. Total solar eclipses occur approximately once every 18 months, but it depends where on Earth you are if you have a chance to see them.
  9. The next annular solar eclipse that can be seen in the U.S. will be Oct. 14, 2023, and will be visible from Florida to Northern California.
  10. The next total solar eclipse will be visible from Maine to Texas on April 8, 2024.


 

viz-title


Visualizing the eclipse

Visualizing the eclipse

A total eclipse of the heartland

The moon will pass between the sun and Earth on Aug. 21 casting a shadow that will travel across the country from coast to coast. It will be the first total eclipse over the contiguous United States in 38 years.

The eclipse path

How to view eclipse

To view the partially eclipsed sun, eye protection is required.

The solar eclipse will cut a swath across the U.S., and a narrow segment from Oregon to South Carolina will experience more than two minutes when the sun is blocked totally by the moon.

“Eclipse glasses” or hand-held viewers should meet the ISO 12312-2

international standard.

A No. 14 arc welder’s glass can be used safely to view the eclipse directly.

10:15 a.m.

(PDT)

10:30 a.m.

(PDT)

11:45 a.m.

(MDT)

1 p.m.

(CDT)

1:15 p.m.

(CDT)

2:30 p.m.

(EDT)

2:45 p.m.

(EDT)

Sun

obscured

60%

Duration of totality

(minutes:seconds)

70%

total

eclIPSe

80%

90%

Simple projector

Poke a small hole in an index card with a pencil tip. Hold another card 3 to 4 feet behind in its shadow. All eclipse phases can be safely viewed on the face of the card.

100%

90%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

Celestial alignment

As the moon orbits the Earth — traveling in tandem around the sun — it occasionally passes between the earth and the sun. Within the shadow cast on the earth, the moon is seen to block out — or eclipse —the disk of the sun, either totally or partially.

Index

card

Pinhole

Index

card

3 to 4 feet

It takes light from the sun

eight minutes, 20 seconds to travel the 92.9 million miles to Earth.

Eclipse

projection

Earth

Moon

Total eclipses over U.S., through 2050

A total eclipse of the sun will happen over the contiguous 48 states only four times between now and 2050. The 2017 total eclipse is the first to touch the U.S. mainland since Feb. 26, 1979.

(Not to scale)

Path of eclipse

Penumbra (partial eclipse)

Umbra

(total eclipse)

Sun

Aug. 23, 2044

AUG. 21

Sources: NASA;

greatamericaneclipse.com;

American Astronomical Society;

Photo: Kate Russo; maps4news.com/©HERE

Aug. 12, 2045

April 8, 2024

Graphic by Justin gilbert/GATEHOUSE MEDIA

A total eclipse

of the heartland

The moon will pass between the sun and Earth on Aug. 21 casting a shadow that will travel across the country from coast to coast. It will be the first total eclipse over the contiguous United States in 38 years.

The eclipse path

The solar eclipse will cut a swath across the U.S., and a narrow segment from Oregon to South Carolina will experience more than two minutes when the sun is blocked totally by the moon.

10:15 a.m.

(PDT)

10:30 a.m.

(PDT)

11:45 a.m.

(MDT)

1 p.m.

(CDT)

1:15 p.m.

(CDT)

2:30 p.m.

(EDT)

2:45 p.m.

(EDT)

Sun

obscured

60%

Duration of totality

(minutes:seconds)

70%

total

eclIPSe

80%

90%

100%

90%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

How to view eclipse

To view the partially eclipsed sun, eye protection is required.

“Eclipse glasses” or hand-held viewers should meet the ISO 12312-2

international standard.

A No. 14 arc welder’s glass can be used safely to view the eclipse directly.

Simple projector

Poke a small hole in an index card with a pencil tip. Hold another card 3 to 4 feet behind in its shadow. All eclipse phases can be safely viewed on the face of the card.

Pinhole

Index

card

Index

card

3 to 4 feet

Eclipse

projection

Celestial alignment

As the moon orbits the Earth — traveling in tandem around the sun — it occasionally passes between the earth and the sun. Within the shadow cast on the earth, the moon is seen to block out — or eclipse —the disk of the sun, either totally or partially.

Path of eclipse

It takes light from the sun

eight minutes, 20 seconds to travel the 92.9 million miles to Earth.

Earth

Moon

(Not to scale)

Penumbra (partial eclipse)

Umbra

(total eclipse)

Sun

Total eclipses over U.S.,

through 2050

A total eclipse of the sun will happen over the contiguous 48 states only four times between now and 2050. The 2017 total eclipse is the first to touch the U.S. mainland since Feb. 26, 1979.

Aug. 23, 2044

AUG. 21

Aug. 12, 2045

April 8, 2024

Sources: NASA;

greatamericaneclipse.com;

American Astronomical Society;

Photo: Kate Russo; maps4news.com/©HERE

Graphic by Justin gilbert/GATEHOUSE MEDIA


How to watch

The path of the Aug. 21 solar eclipse across the U.S. (Courtesy of NASA)

Although millions of Americans will be in the “path of totality” for the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, there will be many who won’t get the chance to experience the first total eclipse across the United States since 1918. So if you aren’t in the “path of totality” or able to witness the phenomenon outdoors, where are some websites that can allow you to follow the moon’s eclipsing action?

2017 Total Solar Eclipse MegaCast (NASA): https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-live-stream

NASA will host the 4-hour Eclipse MegaCast lifestream along the path of totality and will also allow observers the opportunity to interact with NASA scientists during the event.

CNN & Volvo Eclipse of the Century: http://www.cnn.com/specials/vr/total-solar-eclipse-2017/

Along with a map of the eclipse’ path of totality, CNN provides a Viewer’s Guide on best places to see the eclipse from, a history of eclipses and how to photograph the eclipse.

Eclipse 2017 Live Stream (Eclipse Ballooning Project, Montana State University): http://eclipse.stream.live/

A unique look at the eclipse as 55 teams of students from universities, high schools and high altitude ballooning groups from around the country will live-stream the flight of about 100 high-altitude balloons during the solar eclipse. The balloons, which will ascend to about 100,000 feet above the Earth, use GPS satellites, lightweight radio modems, miniature computers and video.

Eclipse Across America (Curiosity Stream/Mark Bender): https://curiositystream.com/eclipse/

The Curiosity Stream is a four-part advance look at the Aug. 21 eclipse that follows a group of scientists, adventurers and eclipse chasers as they prepare for the celestial event. Along with getting tips on the best viewing spots, observers can also explore the science behind eclipses.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 (Exploratorium): https://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse

The Exploratorium, San Francisco’s award-winning hands-on science museum, is conducting a webcast of the Aug. 21 eclipse which will information about eclipses. Online observers can also connect with each other through a live chat during the webcast.


 

Looking Up: Many safe ways to see the solar eclipse

Peter Becker, More Content Now

On August 21, 2017, the sun will be partially eclipsed by the Moon all over the nation; only along a narrow track from coast to coast, will the sun be totally eclipsed. For most of America, if you use special precautions to safely look, the sun will appear shaped like a crescent, as the invisible Moon slowly passes part way in front.

The sun is much too bright to look at directly without special precaution. Looking at the sun with unfiltered binoculars or a telescope would blind a person. Fortunately, using solar filters or indirect means to see a projected image on a screen, you can examine our star safely on any sunny day.

Without a telescope, you can use special solar filters that are mounted in eyeglass frames. Several companies are selling these in anticipation of the August eclipse. They are typically inexpensive. You can search online and shop around for "eclipse glasses" or "eclipse shades".

Note, the glasses are only to be used with eyes alone. They are NOT safe for the intense focus of a telescope or even binoculars. Special solar filters are available that fit over the front of the telescope or binoculars. Never use these filters, however, over the eyepiece. The focused rays can split the filter and burn your retina!

On any sunny day you can see the sun safely in a variety of other ways:

  • With a pin hole in a closed window shade, the sun
    Viewing the eclipse through a small hole

    will cast a small, dim image inside the darkened room, which you can catch on a white cardboard screen. This is an excellent way to see the crescent shape of the partially eclipsed sun on eclipse day.

  • Similarly, you can make a shoe box viewer with a pinhole on one end and a white screen on the other; the image will be very small.
  • Another variation is to cap a long cardboard tube that held wrapping paper. Put a pinhole in the center of the cap. Rest the tube on your shoulder with the cap facing the sun and your back to the sun. Hold a white cardboard sheet in front of the open end of the tube, to see the solar image.
  • Any tiny hole will do. Try this the next sunny day. Make a nearly clenched fist, leaving only a very narrow space; sunlight can be cast right on the palm of your other hand! Also look under a leafy tree. This is most amazing during a partial eclipse. The hundreds of tiny holes left between overlapping leaves will project hundreds of crescent suns on the ground! Hint: Lay a white sheet on the shaded grass for the best view.
  • With a small round mirror, or a larger one mostly covered up with paper leaving a small, round hole, you can reflect a sharp image of the sun on a white screen set up (or a white wall) in a shadowed area.
  • Using a telescope or binoculars, you can safely
    Using a telescope to safely view the eclipse

    project a magnified image of the sun onto a white screen. Never use the small "finder scope" to look through, to line it up with the sun. Instead, adjust your telescope by watching the shadow of the tube; once it becomes round, you have targeted the sun. Using a white cardboard, hold it several inches away from the eyepiece. You may need to slowly adjust the tube but the sun's image will come onto the screen; focus and look for any dark sunspots, or during the eclipse, watch how the crescent progresses while the invisible Moon passes in front. NOTE: Be careful if children are around. Cover up or remove the finder scope, and do not let ANYONE look through the telescope unless there is a safe solar filter properly attached.

  • Use a Sunspotter. This marvelous device was invented and patented by my late friend Daniel R. Janosik Sr. in the late 1970's. He made over 1,000 of these in his home near Hawley, Pa., and sold them to schools and individuals across the country. His first version was cube-shaped. The second and most successful version was shaped like a triangle and open to see inside. It uses lenses and mirrors to conveniently project a sharp, magnified image of the sun onto a white screen inside the device. It's handy for group observing. After he died in 1995, a science education company bought the rights to improve the design, make and sell them.

For more information on seeing the sun safely, visit NASA's web page .

Keep looking up!

Peter Becker is Managing Editor at The News Eagle in Hawley, PA. Notes are welcome at news@neagle.com. Please mention in what newspaper or web site you read this column. Please send your eclipse stories as well as reports and pictures of the August 21st solar eclipse!

Economy


The eclipse economy

Podcasts


Podcasts to Listen To: The best total solar eclipse podcasts

On Aug. 21, millions of people across the country will venture their way outside to witness the day turn to night for about 2 1/2 minutes. Starting at about 1 p.m. EDT, the moon will totally eclipse the sun along a path from Oregon to South Carolina. To help you get prepared to witness the total solar eclipse, especially for those in the “path of totality,” here are a few podcasts to listen to.

The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Podcast: Focusing mostly on the upcoming Aug. 21 event, Astronomy magazine’s Michael E. Bakich has listeners covered from where the best spots are to see the total eclipse to the best video strategies for the day of the event. Other episodes include “Eclipse Tales from Around the World,” “A Short History of Eclipses” and “Each State’s Most Recent and Next Totality.” Find it: http://apple.co/2h9Lw2f.

 

NASA Edge: Solar Eclipse 2017 Preview Show: Although this podcast was recorded last summer, the Solar Eclipse Preview Show gives listeners a guide to plan their own observations. Featuring Eric Christian, Fred Espenak, Bob Baer, Emily Stanley and Matt Penn, the group gives inside and outside looks to viewing the solar eclipse safely. Find it: https://go.nasa.gov/2tKzCOs.

 

Big Picture Science: Eclipsing All Other Shows: Produced by the SETI Institute, Big Picture Science gets eclipse enthusiasts ready for the event with the basics of where to be and what to bring. Guests of the episode include David Baron, Jay Pasachoff, Madhulika Guhathakurta and Andrew Fraknoi. The guests also discuss the 1878 eclipse that inspired Thomas Edison and astronomer Maria Mitchell. Find it: http://bit.ly/2tKNhoo.

 

Star Talk Radio: If the final frontier of space captivates you, the Star Talk Radio podcast hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is devoted to all things space. Along with helping people understand science with clarity, deGrasse Tyson also discusses pop culture. Joining deGrasse Tyson is a variety of comedians, celebrities and other special guests. Find it: https://www.startalkradio.net/.

 

Sky Tour Podcasts: Sky & Telescope senior editor J. Kelly Beatty hosts the Sky Tour Podcast, giving listeners celestial updates on what is coming up each month. Broken up into 10-minute episodes, Beatty covers each month’s highlights upcoming meteor showers and eclipses and when you can see various planets in the night sky. Find it: http://bit.ly/2u5HMjA.