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© Miloslav Druckmüller

Monday, August 21, 2017

On August 21, the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States in 38 years (since February 26, 1979) will cross the country from the Oregon coast to Charleston, South Carolina. Tens of millions of people will have the chance to see and experience the unique wonder of the Sun being blocked out by the Moon for 2-3 minutes. If you can travel to see the eclipse, you should!

eclipes size vers place

To experience a total solar eclipse, you must travel to a location that is along the path of totality. Everyone in the United States will experience at least a partial solar eclipse. At Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, just under 70% of the Sun's diameter will be eclipsed.

NASA description of the total solar eclipse:

"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."

These NASA resources will help you prepare to see the eclipse:

Additional eclipse information and resources

On May 12, the Los Angeles Times published two excellent articles regarding the upcoming eclipse.

The first was an overview of the event:

The second article describes how astronomers will be tracking and recording the eclipse as it moves across the country:

What we will see in Los Angeles

at maximum eclipse Eclipse begins  9:05 a.m. PDT
Maximum eclipse 10:21 a.m. PDT
(Moon covers 70% of Sun’s diameter, 62% of Sun’s area)
Eclipse ends 11:44 a.m. PDT

What is a solar eclipse?

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon comes between the Earth and the Sun. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon completely blocks out the light from the Sun.

The Moon's shadow projected on the Earth is quite small. Since you need to be in the path of the shadow to see a total eclipse, total solar eclipses are visible from only a small area on Earth. Elsewhere, the eclipse will only be observed as a partial eclipse, or not visible at all.

© Miloslav Druckmüller solar eclipses exhibit

Solar eclipses happen less than twice a year on average. During totality, stars and planets become visible due to the darkness of the sky without the Sun’s light. Total solar eclipses are also a rare opportunity to glimpse the thin solar corona; a wispy veil of ultra-hot plasma that surrounds our star.

A solar eclipse happens whenever the Moon passes directly between the Earth.

The path of the Moon's shadow for the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse. In order to see a total solar eclipse, you must be positioned along the line of totality.