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Total Solar Eclipse August 21

Image Credit: Rick Fienberg, TravelQuest International and Wilderness Travel. Figure 1- In this series of still from 2013, the eclipse sequence runs from right to left. The center image shows totality; on either side are the 2nd contact (right) and 3rd contact (left diamond rings that mark the beginning and end of totality respectively).

Staff Reports

According to the NASA website, on Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights that has not been seen for 38 years - a total solar eclipse. The eclipse will be visible -- weather permitting -- across all of North America. The entire continent will experience a partial eclipse lasting two to three hours. Anyone within a 70-milewide path that stretches through 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a total eclipse. During those brief moments – when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face for about two minutes – day will turn into night, making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona, the sun’s outer atmosphere. Bright stars and planets will become visible as well. Birds will fly to their nighttime roosts. Nocturnal insects such as cicadas and crickets will buzz and chirp. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.

It is reported that many are traveling to South Carolina and beyond to see the eclipse in its totality. So many, in fact, most hotels, motels and other forms of accommodations are booked solid in Charleston and many locations along the path of totality.

According to the information, the North Florida region will see about 88 percent of the eclipse, weather permitting, from just after 1 p.m. through around 4 p.m. with 2:30 - 2:50 p.m being the peak time. NASA reports that for this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds.  The last total eclipse in the contiguous United States occurred on Feb. 26, 1979. The last total eclipse that crossed the entire continent occurred on June 8, 1918. Experiencing a total solar eclipse where you live happens on average about once in 375 years.

The path of totality is a relatively thin ribbon, around 70 miles wide, that will cross the U.S. from West to East.  The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT.  Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.  The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT.  From there the lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 EDT.  Its longest duration will be near Carbondale, Illinois, where the sun will be completely covered for two minutes and 40 seconds.

They warn to never look directly at the sun during an eclipse without appropriate protection except during totality.  However, there are many ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun. NASA’s website includes some great information and directions on how to build a sun funnel to use with your telescope and other ways to safely view an eclipse.

Visit for more information. Residents can check with local science museums, schools and astronomy clubs for eclipse glasses (not sunglasses), which are an inexpensive way to enjoy this rare moment. The next total solar eclipse to reach the nation will be April 8, 2024, but few will be in the path of totality.

Earth Image above from NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio
Figure 2- This map shows the globe view of  the path of totality for the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.