By Isabella Rossellini

Americans will be in for a special treat on Aug 21, 2017, with a rare celestial show of the first total solar eclipse in the last four decades, which is visible over the continental United States.

The eclipse will darken the skies from Oregon to South Carolina in total and will be visible along a wider stretch of 70 miles. Those who are present at this ‘path of totality’ to witness this big event will have an unforgettable lifetime experience as per the space scientists.

Before, this a total solar eclipse darkened the mainland US back on Feb 26, 1979, but the one coming up in August is counted as a unique one in the last 99 years as an eclipse which is readily viewable to people from coast to coast.

A real rare event to witness

Solar eclipses usually occurs when the moon comes in it orbit just at the right distance to cover the as much larger sun. However, most of the solar eclipses are of partial nature when moon tend to take up only a bit of the sun’s disk. Almost two to five partial solar eclipses happen every year; however, total eclipses happen rarely.

When total eclipses occur, most of the time, its narrow path of totality is also make it often inaccessible to the public as most of the Earth is covered by water. So, a total eclipse which occurs at populated area is something special. This uniqueness makes the August 2017 event special as its path of totality fully lies within the mainland United States.

The path of totality goes from Oregon coast and covers;

  • Idaho
  • Wyoming
  • Nebraska
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Georgia
  • North Carolina, and
  • South Carolina.

There are about 12 million people live within this band of totality; however, nearly about 220 million from the nearby states also may flock to witness this rare experience. Skywatchers forums and the astronomy organizations have already released specific guidelines and list of best view destinations for the August 2017 eclipse.

Be safe while watching eclipse

It is advised that one should not look direct at sun during the time of eclipse, but there are safe ways to observe it. Only during a brief period of totality the sun’s disk is completely occluded, which may end at any time and looking at it with naked eye may end up in eye damage.

Proper eye protection needed to be used as eclipse glasses, solar filters, or the No# 14 welder’s glass. It is also possible to view the eclipse indirectly by getting a pinhole camera or by watching the shadow cast by trees. The gaps in between the leaves may act as natural pinholes to replicate the exact eclipse.

Don’t worry even if you miss out the August 2017 complete solar eclipse. There is another chance also coming up exactly after seven years in 2024. It is said that another total solar eclipse will fully darken the skies of the U.S. spanning across Mexico and Texas and getting through the Midwest and Northeastern United States.

One Reply to “Culture: The Great American Total Solar Eclipse Path of Totality”

  1. As the date of the August 21 eclipse draws near, keep this important safety information in mind: You MUST use special eclipse safety glasses to view a partial eclipse and the partial phases of a total eclipse. To do otherwise is risking permanent eye damage and even blindness. The ONLY time it’s safe to look at a TOTAL eclipse without proper eye protection is during the very brief period of totality when the Sun is 100 percent blocked by the Moon. If you’re in a location where the eclipse won’t be total, there is NEVER a time when it’s safe to look with unprotected eyes. NEVER attempt to view an eclipse with an optical device (camera, binoculars, telescope) that doesn’t have a specially designed solar filter that fits snugly on the front end (the Sun side) of the device. Additionally, never attempt to view an eclipse with an optical device while wearing eclipse glasses; the focused light will destroy the glasses and enter and damage your eyes.

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