- August 12-13: the Perseid Meteor Shower when you could see up to 80 “falling stars” or meteors an hour.
- The Black Moon, which will cause the Great American Eclipse will occur on August 21.
- A Total Solar Eclipse will occur on August 21.
A “once in a lifetime” event will occur this August 21: A Total Solar Eclipse. The last total solar eclipse seen in the continental USA was June 1918. A total solar eclipse in 1979 only went over Oregon and clouds prevented anyone from seeing it.
This eclipse will be the most viewed ever due to its wide path across the USA because of our highway system, typical weather that time of year, and people in large cities.
You will be unique! If you do see this event unfold, you will be the only person that you come in contact with that has ever seen a total solar eclipse (statistically speaking)!
The path will be approximately 100 miles wide. It will go across 10 states: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. Western Kentucky University provides an excellent visual of this event. Eclipse 2017 provides the path in a different format and also offers a huge amount of information.
A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon, and earth line up in a direct path with the moon being between the sun and earth. It is almost as dark as at night and you can see the stars and planets for a few minutes.
Prepare for This Event (Away from Home)
- Lots of people, lots of traffic: As this event occurs infrequently, expect MANY people. If you will be going to any location other than your home, plan on getting to that location early to get a parking spot and also someplace to sit, whether on folding chairs and/or blankets.
- Locate bathrooms: if you will go anywhere other than your home (or friends’/relatives’ homes), be sure to locate where bathrooms or port-a-potties will be located.
- Purchase Safe Solar Glasses EARLY. Do not try to cut corners or go cheaply and purchase glasses that are only labeled as safe glasses. Your eyesight is not worth losing over a couple of dollars! The reason I suggest buying solar glasses early is as with everything else, when businesses know they can charge more for items right around events, they will raise prices. Therefore, save yourself some money and get safe solar glasses early.
- According to NASA, so far only 3 manufacturers have certified that their glasses to meet the ISO 12312-2 International Standards: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, and Thousand Oaks Optical.
What to Bring or Have Available
- Sunscreen: Obvious since you’ll be in the sun.
- Light Colored Towels: To cover your equipment. Turn cameras so the lens is AWAY from the sunlight. Since black absorbs the heat from sunlight, the lighter the color the better.
- Hat: To protect your head from the sun. A brimmed hat will also provide an area of shade.
- Sunglasses: NOT FOR WATCHING THE ECLIPSE, but rather for the rest of the day.
- Water: Be sure to DRINK it, too! It will not keep you hydrated if it remains in the bottle!
- Snacks or picnic lunch
- Chairs and/or blankets
Tips to Help
- Have fun with this event. The eclipse will occur on a Monday, which means there will be a variety of related events. Consider making a weekend of the event. NASA’s Solar Dynasty Observatory was launched on February 11, 2010 and its 5-year mission is to study the sun’s energy, magnetic changes, and influence on space weather. Their website is tracking events, parties, and festivals that will occur along the path of the solar eclipse.
- Do Not Photograph the Eclipse! Take photos before and after; however, during this spectacle keep your eyes on the skies. It will only last for 1-2 minutes and no photograph will capture what you will see as photos are only 2 dimensional. Why take the chance of missing this unique event by looking your camera controls?!?!
- Difference in Nature: Animals, insects, and birds act differently in that they quickly prepare for sleep. It confuses them when it does not last as long as their normal nocturnal activities. More documentation of animal reactions during an eclipse is on com.
- Look at the Horizon. It will be illuminated in a narrow band of light because distant localities are not directly under the umbra of the moon’s shadow. You will also see sunset colors all around where you are standing.
- Feel the temperature drop. It may drop as much as 10-15 degrees. The drop will only last a few minutes as the environment would not have much time to thermally respond. However, you should feel the difference.
- Is it Going the Wrong Way? It is an illusion caused by the earth’s rotation. The moon orbits in the same direction as the earth (anti-clockwise). However, it takes the earth 24 hours to complete a rotation whereas it takes the moon 27 days to orbit the earth. In other words, the earth completes one rotation in 1,670 km/hr at the equator. The moon moves to the east in its orbit at 3,400 km/hr at the equator. The only way to keep up with the shadow of an eclipse is if you traveled at Mach 1.5!
If you will be celebrating your birthday during this Great American Eclipse (if your birth date falls anywhere between August 19 to August 23), you can give your birthday date to Eclipse2017 and they will list your name and date of birth on their webpage.
The next time a total solar eclipse that can be seen in a number of states across the continental United States will be April 2024.
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