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Solar Eclipse 2017 USA: What to know

Something impressive will move in front of the Sun and obscure our star.  The Sun’s rays will disappear, shadows will change, the temperature will drop and the stars will shine brightly in the middle of the day.  A wind will come up and the animal would will be strangely still.

Earlier peoples felt fear.  The Chinese thought a giant dragon swallowed the Sun.  Only with a roar and bellowing was the dragon forced to spit the Sun out again.  Indeed, the idea is eerie, not knowing what exactly is going on… of course, was the event we call a solar eclipse.

Solar Eclipse fans have long known: on August 21st, 2017, a total solar eclipse will take place from coast to coast across the USA.  A once in a lifetime experience, which many people are longing for.

All the important info and numbers, as well as what a solar eclipse looks like, can be found below in this article.

Solar eclipse Slider EN

Data Compact: The Great American Solar Eclipse 2017

The total solar eclipse will stretch from the Pacific, across North America, to the Atlantic.  Most interesting will be the population centers, because the eclipse’s path will traverse not only desolate deserts, but also cities and towns.  Across the American continent, the thin path of totality at a width of 115 km or 71.5 miles will stretch across 14 U.S. states.  On the day of the 21st of August, millions of people will experience the eclipse first hand, lasting a total of 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

The partial phases of the eclipse will be visible north and south of the path of totality throughout the entirety of the USA.  Partiality will stretch north through Canada and south through Mexico as well as northern South America.
Of special note: The Americans have already termed this solar eclipse the “Great American Eclipse”.

© NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

© NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

What is a Total Solar Eclipse?

An interesting coincidence: the Sun is around 400 times larger than the Moon, but is also 400 times further away from the Earth than the Moon.  That means, the Moon and Sun appear to have the same diameter in the sky.  Such a lucky coincidence, since it makes a solar eclipse possible in the first place, allowing the Moon to completely obscure the Moon.  Were the Moon a bit smaller or further from the Earth, we would never have the pleasure of witnessing a total solar eclipse.  The result would be a ring of fire eclipse, although that is a story for another time.

As the New Moon moves in front of the Sun’s disk and covers it, a shadow will fall onto a slim are of the Earth and darkens the stretch of land.  This region then experiences a total solar eclipse!  On the outside of this region, the Sun will only be partially eclipsed, meaning the Moon will only cover part of the Sun.

A solar eclipse can only occur, while the Moon is in the “new” phase, as the Sun and Moon find themselves in a nodal point.

Sonnenfinsternis Schema

Of course, we have a New Moon every month, but not a solar eclipse.  Why?  The Moon actually orbits the Earth at 5° degree deviation from the ecliptic.  Most often the New Moon moves past, above or below, the Sun, resulting in no eclipse.

However, returning to the dragon swallowing the Sun.  The point of intersection, where the Moon and ecliptic cross.  When the New Moon and Sun by chance meet at this point of intersection, the Moon no longer moves past the sun, but obscures it.  The then becomes black and the corona majestically lights up behind it.

Then a very long, round but sharp moving shadow falls upon the Earth, which can be a maximum of 273 km or 170 miles wide.  The totality, meaning the complete covering of the Sun, can last a maximum of 7.5 minutes.  Most of the time, we don’t get to experience such ideal circumstances.  In the case of the USA, the shadow is only 115 km or 71.5 miles and last a total 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

How Will the Eclipse Happen?

The path of the eclipse will pass across the middle of the USA.  More precisely, through the states of Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.  The beginning will take place in Oregon.  At 10:16 AM PDT (Pacific Daylight Time), the first people will witness the total phase.  In the Oregonian capital of Salem, the eclipse will last a maximum of 1 minute and 58 seconds.

From there, it will proceed to Idaho and then Wyoming – the Cowboy State.  In Casper, the event will occur at 11:43 AM MDT and will last 2 minutes and 27 seconds.  The weather there August is very often clear and sunny.  The further one travels east from there, the higher the chance of cloud cover.  In Kentucky, the length of totality will reach its height at 2 minutes and 40 seconds.  At 2:42 EDT, the shadow of the eclipse will reach South Carolina.  After that, the shadow will jet off over the Atlantic towards Africa and Europe.

"Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, www.EclipseWise.com"

“Eclipse Predictions by Fred Espenak, www.EclipseWise.com”

From West to East in 1.5 Hours

The core shadow will race across the American continent at a speed of 4,260 kmh or 2,647 mph, which is approximately double the speed of a modern day fighter jet. Altogether, the shadow will traverse more than 4,000 km or 2,500 miles of North America over a period of 1.5 hours, totaling about three hours of eclipse, from first to last contact.

Only with Eye Protection

Perhaps, you have already long had plans to travel to a specific spot in the USA and witness the total eclipse. Supposedly, the number of people experiencing the eclipse will reach around 7.4 million people. What is of utmost importance is to protect your eyes!

Never look directly at the Sun without protection!  Solar Eclipse glasses are a must, to adequately protect your eyes. Should you decide to travel to a spot in the USA to see the eclipse, we recommend Omegon’s certified Solar Eclipse Glasses.

Similarly, a solar filter is also must for a telescope. A large selection of filters are available here.

If you cannot follow this event at location, you can access NASA’s live stream.

Interesting Links:

Solar Eclipse Site NASA: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov

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