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Eclipse Viewing Glasses

It is never safe to look directly at the sun's rays – even if the sun is partly obscured. When watching a partial eclipse you must wear eclipse glasses at all times if you want to face the sun.
Learn More About Eclipse Viewing Safety

 
 

 

The Great American Eclipse 2017 Facts

 


This will be the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years. The last one occurred February 26, 1979. Unfortunately, not many people saw it because it clipped just five states in the Northwest and the weather for the most part was bleak. Before that one, you have to go back to March 7, 1970.

A solar eclipse is a lineup of the Sun, the Moon, and Earth. The Moon, directly between the Sun and Earth, casts a shadow on our planet. If you’re in the dark part of that shadow (the umbra), you’ll see a total eclipse. If you’re in the light part (the penumbra), you’ll see a partial eclipse.

Everyone in the continental U.S. will see at least a partial eclipse. In fact, if you have clear skies on eclipse day, the Moon will cover at least 48 percent of the Sun’s surface. And that’s from the northern tip of Maine.

You want to be on the center line. The shadow is round, so the longest eclipse occurs at its center line because that’s where you’ll experience the Moon’s shadow’s full width. Missouri, including Herculaneum is on the center line

The center line crosses through 10 states. Oregon, Idaho,Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina.

Herculaneum has a better view than St. Louis. About half of both Kansas City and Saint Louis lie within the path of totality. Unfortunately, the center line doesn’t pass through either of them. Most residents interested in the eclipse will drive 30 minutes or so for an extra two minutes of totality.

Nature will take heed. Depending on your surroundings, as totality nears you may experience strange things. Look. You’ll notice a resemblance to the onset of night, though not exactly. Areas much lighter than the sky near the Sun lie all around the horizon. Shadows look different. Listen. Usually, any breeze will dissipate and birds (many of whom will come in to roost) will stop chirping. It is quiet. Feel. A 10°–15° F drop in temperature is not unusual.

A Rare Event

 

The fact that total solar eclipses occur at all is a quirk of cosmic geometry. The moon orbits an average of 239,000 miles (384,600 kilometers) from Earth — just the right distance to seem the same size in the sky as the much-larger sun.

But most solar eclipses are of the partial variety, in which the moon appears to take a bite out of the sun's disk. Indeed, two to five solar eclipses occur every year on average; total eclipses happen just once every 18 months or so. (Eclipses are relatively rare because the moon's orbit is inclined about 5 degrees relative to that of Earth. If the two bodies orbited in exactly the same plane, a solar eclipse would occur every month, during the moon's "new" phase.)

Furthermore, the narrow path of totality is often inaccessible to skywatchers — most of Earth is covered by water, after all — so a total solar eclipse that occurs over populated areas is quite special. Indeed, the August 2017 event will be the first one whose totality path lies completely within the United States since 1776, experts have said.

That path goes from the Oregon coast through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. While just 12 million people or so live within the narrow band, perhaps 220 million reside within a day's drive of it, according to Space.com.

"Though the rest of the continental U.S. will have at least a 55 percent partial eclipse, it won’t ever get dark there, and eye-protection filters would have to be used at all times even to know that the eclipse is happening. The dramatic effects occur only for those in the path of totality.

"If you are in that path of totality, you are seeing the main event, but if you are off to the side — even where the sun is 99 percent covered by the moon — it is like going up to the ticket booth of a baseball or football stadium but not going inside," he added.

The events provide a rare opportunity to study the sun's wispy outer atmosphere, which is called the corona. (The sun's overwhelming brightness usually drowns out the faint corona.)

Temperatures in the corona top 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million degrees Celsius), making the region much hotter than the solar surface, which is just 11,000 degrees F (6,000 degrees C) or so. How the corona gets so hot has puzzled scientists for decades.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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