The total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 will be visible from a narrow path spanning the US from the West Coast to the East Coast. A total eclipse of the sun happens when the moon completely blocks the visible Sun, casting a shadow on Earth. To see a total eclipse, you need to be in the darkest part of this shadow, known as the umbra. People in the lighter part of the shadow, or the prenumbra, will see a partial eclipse.
This is the first total solar eclipse in 38 Years for those in contiguous United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). The last time anyone in mainland US saw a total eclipse of the Sun was on February 26, 1979 (comment below if you were born after that date). If you live in the US and miss this event, you’ll have to wait 7 more years, until April 8, 2024, to see a total solar eclipse from a location in the contiguous United States.
Looking at the Sun with your naked eyes is highly dangerous and can even cause blindness. The safest way to see a solar eclipse is to wear protective eclipse glasses or use a pinhole projector. The Newark Museum will be hosting a viewing of the eclipse on Monday, August 21st in the Horizon Plaza from 1-4pm and will provide materials to make a simple pinhole viewer.
The Weather Channel released a list of 8 Mistakes to Avoid For An Enjoyable Experience including:
- Over or Underestimating Traffic
- Forgetting the Necessities (like food, water, a chair, and sunscreeen)
- Taking Pictures
What makes this eclipse extra special is that it is the first time since the total solar eclipse of January 11, 1880 that a total solar eclipse will occur exclusively over the continental United States—no other country will see totality, though many countries will see a partial eclipse of the Sun. Because of these reasons, the eclipse is also being called the Great American Eclipse.
As the sky turns dark, planets and stars hidden in the sky by the Sun’s bright light will reappear. Viewers are encouraged to look for Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus during totality.
(feature image courtesy of National Geographic)