It’s almost time for a total solar eclipse! How exciting!! And, it’s set to cross the entire continent on Monday, August 21, 2017. For the first time since 1918, from coast to coast, people will be able to witness a solar eclipse… first hand.
What an exciting time for us. We hear about them all the time. But, most of us are too young to have actually witnessed one. Scientists are calling the event a “once in a lifetime eclipse,” while submitting proposals for eclipse research. And, NASA is doing its part to educate us of safe eclipse viewing.
According to NASA, as the earth is orbited by the moon, there are rare occasions when it moves between the earth and the sun. This causes the moon to block the sun’s light from getting to the earth.
Now, you have an eclipse (or concealing) of the sun, known as a solar eclipse. When it occurs, the moon casts a shadow down on planet earth.
There are 3 different types of eclipses of the sun:
- Total Solar Eclipse – Sun, moon and earth directly lined up so the sun is completely blocked by the moon making it as dark as night outside
- Partial Solar Eclipse – Sun, moon and earth aren’t exactly lined up so the sun is partially hidden behind the moon
- Annular Solar Eclipse – Moon is farthest from earth, so it’s a small object in front of the sun, as opposed to a large object blocking it
On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will experience a total solar eclipse. This type can only be seen from a small area of the planet. When the moon’s shadow reaches earth, those who see the total eclipse must be in the center of that shadow.
Image of the last total solar eclipse taken from Holloways Beach, Cairns QLD.Image Source: Matt Marshall/Flickr
Once the moon has completely blocked the sun, the sky will become dark, as if it’s nighttime. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to witness one of the most awe-inspiring moments nature has to offer. NASA expects the total solar eclipse to be viewable from Charleston, SC to Salem, OR.
Anyone outside of the coverage area will still get the chance to experience the awesome sights of a partial solar eclipse. That’s if the weather permits it.
The 2017 total solar eclipse is expected to start at 10:15 AM PST near Lincoln City, OR. Its totality should end at 11:48 PM PST near Charleston, SC. Those outside of the total eclipse area can witness the partial eclipse, which will start sooner and end later.
It will take the total solar eclipse itself about 1 hour and 40 minutes to cross over the U.S. Many science projects are scheduled to take place during this time, funded by NASA.
We all know how hard (or impossible) it is to look directly at the sun. But, during a total solar eclipse, this is possible.
You’ll have the chance to check out the corona of the sun, its vast outer atmosphere.
For the first time ever, you can personally see the pearly white streamers and rays of the corona, as it radiates around the lunar dusk. It will be visible to millions across the U.S.
It is always unsafe to look directly into the rays of the sun. This is true even when the sun is partially blocked or obscured. However, if the sun is completely obscured, referred to as the period of totality, you can view the sun directly. But, it’s vitally important that you know when to put your protective glasses back on to avoid damage to your eyes.
The first step to being prepared for safely viewing a total eclipse is knowing when it starts and ends. Our upcoming spectacular will occur on Monday, August 21, 2017. Check NASA’s eclipse times for details.
There is only one completely safe way to view a partially eclipsed or uneclipsed sun. That’s through hand-held solar viewers, eclipse glasses or some other special-purpose solar filters. NASA does not recommend using ordinary, dark sunglasses. These are simply not safe for looking directly at the sun.
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NASA handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses that have been certified to meet international ISO 12312-2 standards. They list these five certified manufacturers on their website as trust sources:
- American Paper Optics
- Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold film only)
- Rainbow Symphony
- Thousand Oaks Optical
- TSE 17
Here are some tips from NASA to help you keep your eyes safe while using filter devices to view solar eclipses:
- Always give your solar filter and thorough inspection before using it. If it’s damaged or scratched in any way, get rid of it. Be sure to read and follow the directions printed on or inserted in the packaging. Never leave children unsupervised while viewing the sun using solar filters.
- Before you look up into the sky at the sun, stand still and use your solar viewer or eclipse glasses to cover your eyes. Take a glance at the sun. Then, turn away and take off the filter. Never remove it while still looking directly at the sun.
- If you are lucky enough to be within the totality’s path, be patient and wait for the totality to begin before removing your filter. Once the sun is completely blocked by the moon, it will become dark outside. Only then is it safe to remove the filter and look directly at the sun. As soon as you see the brightness of the sun start to reappear, put your filter back on. Then, you can enjoy the remainder of the partial eclipses phases.
Here are some things NASA advises you not to do while looking at the sun:
- Do not use an unfiltered telescope, binoculars, camera or other unfiltered optical devices to look at a partially eclipsed or uneclipsed sun
- Do not look directly at the sun through a telescope, binoculars, camera or other unfiltered optical devices while using a handheld solar viewer or eclipse glasses – the concentrated rays from the sun will damage the filter and get into your eyes, injuring them
If you don’t have access to any of the high-tech devices above, you can still safely view a partially eclipsed sun. NASA recommends using the pinhole projection method:
- Outstretch the fingers on both of your hands so they’re slightly open
- Cross your hands so one hand’s slightly open fingers cross over the other hand’s slightly open fingers
- Look on the ground at your hands’ shadow with the sun to your back
- You’ll see a grid of tiny images reflected on the ground from the small spaces between your fingers, letting you view the sun as a crescent during the eclipse partial phases
The video below captures the entire November 14, 2012, Carins total eclipse. It took place in Holloways Beach, Cairns, Australia. This film was uploaded to YouTube, courtesy of The Aquila.
ALEX SANZ / ASSOCIATED PRESS
NASA EDGE, NASA Heliophysics Education Consortium, Lunt Solar Systems and the University of Southern Illinois Carbondale will come together on August 21, 2017. They are scheduled to air a live webcast for about 4 hours and 30 minutes of the last total solar eclipse.
This collaborative webcast is set to air at 8:45 AM PST (11:45 AM EST). Throughout the Megacast, the solar eclipse will be tracked by NASA EDGE. They’ll keep us informed as it begins in Oregon and travels across the U.S. to die off in South Carolina.
So many people are excited about experiencing this spectacular, once in a lifetime event. People all across the country have planned solar eclipse parties for 2017. If you’re planning an eclipse party, NASA has some really cool tips. Click here for solar eclipse party tips from NASA.
How to Prepare for the Total Solar Eclipse
The stars are aligned! In just a few days, we’ll be witnessing a once in a lifetime inter-planetary moment: a total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21.
“What makes the total eclipse so special is that it will cross the entire continental United States of America from coast to coast,” says Eddie Mahoney, Director of Astronomy, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa. “This has not happened in 99 years.” And the next total eclipse won’t be visible in the US until 2024.
In preparing for this special event, we gathered spiritual leaders, an astronomer, and a crystal expert to tell us how we can prepare our minds and bodies for August 21, and what we’ll need to do afterward.
What to do before August 21
In short, now is the time to go all in and embrace crystals, essential oils, and meditation. Feel the ommmm.
Expect the unexpected
“The energy around eclipses tends towards chaotic if not outright looney tunes,” says Kelly Morris, Sacred Feminine meditation teacher. “They upend the usual order of things, shaking the ground beneath us.
The energy will be intense, swift, and purgative as our energetic debris begins to shift and shake out.
If the energy of an eclipse is approached with a clean and open heart, illumination, opportunities, and shifts follow.”
She suggests making your days as simply as possible. “Stop socializing, cut out stimulants, and double up on your meditation practice. To truly utilize the energy of this eclipse, make every effort to say adios to negativity and embrace positivity.”
Work with your emotions
“We can’t control our emotions, and we need to be able to witness that the moon has a powerful effect on our emotions,” says Biet Simkin, meditation expert and 1 Hotels meditation leader.
“As a spiritual teacher, I have found what works best is not judging emotions, but rather being playful with them. If rage happens, let it flow through your body.
Go somewhere in a quiet and private place and dance hard, hit pillows, scream! Let it out in a holy way so you won’t yell at your partner or your friends.”
“Currently I have sage, palo santo, and/or copal burning nonstop,” says Morgan Rose, yoga and meditation expert. “For me, these are tools to get grounded, feel steady, and cleanse. I find it really important to be in the bath a lot—cleanse, cleanse, cleanse.
And the best thing I can do for myself is take time to notice the world around me, and the beauty and mystery of it all. Taking walks, sitting in the garden, watching the sunrise, the sunset, the way the sun filters through the leaves. Pausing there to just sip it in it.
It’s healing and reminds us of how precious life is.”
Use crystals to your advantage
“The energy of eclipses can be chaotic and unsettling, you want to ground, calm and prepare yourself for change,” said Kristin Petrovich, author of Elemental Energy. “As we are able to feel effects before they happen, I would suggest trying appropriate or relatable stones prior to, as well as during, the eclipse.”
Here are a few suggested stones (make certain to cleanse and program each stone, this is a helpful guide):
Smoky quartz: Grounding, energizing and protects against radiation. This can be used on the body (pocket, bra, laying on true body), in a bath, by your desk or home.
Rose quartz: For self love, calming and fear—can be used anywhere around you or on your work, home, bedroom, etc. Relaxing tip: Try taking a rose quartz bath with Himalayan or sea salt (with rose essential oil or another calming one, such as lavender or chamomile).
Aqua Marine: Excellent for the throat chakra or communication. Try as a necklace (close to throat) or in breast pocket.
Preparing for Change:
Amethyst: A spiritual stone associated with the brow chakra or third eye, excellent for change, balance and healing. A great all-around stone. Try on third eye, bath, work, home or as a drinkable elixir. Moonstone: Works with behavior and assists with spiritual growth and letting go. Try wearing or sleeping with moonstone.
What to do and expect on Eclipse Day, August 21
Total Solar Eclipse 2017: Everything You Need to Know
On Monday, Aug.
21, the Great American Eclipse will give those in the United States a rare sight — the moon will slip in front of the sun, blocking the rays from hitting Earth and resulting in a gorgeous solar eclipse for those in the path of totality, from Oregon to South Carolina, and a partial one for those outside that path. The U.S. won't be privy to such a view until April 8, 2024, when those in North America will be able to see the total solar eclipse.
To help you prepare for a fun and safe eclipse-viewing, Live Science has compiled everything you need to know, from where to watch, how to watch and the science behind the event. [Watch the Great American Solar Eclipse Live Online]
What is a solar eclipse?
- How to Explain the Total Solar Eclipse to Your Kids
Where should you watch the eclipse?
To find out how close you are to the path of totality, check out these NASA maps of each state with viewing spots.
(Image credit: Teguh Mujiono/Shutterstock)
For the following areas in the U.S., totality starts at the following local times, according to Eclipse2017.org:
- Beach just north of Newport, Oregon: 10:15 a.m.
- Madras and Warm Springs, Oregon: 10:19 a.m.
- Stanley, Idaho: 11:28:18 a.m. MDT
- Mackay, Idaho: 11:30:19 a.m. MDT
- Weiser, Idaho: 11:25:18 a.m. MDT
- Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming: 11:35 a.m.
- Pavillion, Wyoming: 11:38 a.m.
- Alliance, Nebraska: 11:49 a.m.
- Lincoln, Nebraska: 1:02 p.m.
- Troy, Kansas: 1:05 p.m.
- Atchison, Kansas: 1:06 p.m.
- Kansas City, Missouri: 1:08 p.m.
- Murphysboro, Illinois: 1:19:30 p.m.
- Makanda, Illinois: 1:20:11 p.m.
- Carbondale, Illinois: 1:20 p.m.
- Marion, Illinois: 1:20:40 p.m.
- Paducah, Kentucky: 1:22 p.m.
- Franklin, Kentucky: 1:26:48 p.m.
- Clarksville, Tennessee: 1:25 p.m.
- Nashville, Tennessee (at the State Capitol): 1:27 p.m.
- Clayton, Georgia: 2:35:45 p.m.
- Bryson City, North Carolina: 2:35:13 p.m.
- Murphy, North Carolina: 2:34 p.m.
- Greenville, South Carolina: 2:38 p.m.
- Charleston, South Carolina: 2:46:22 p.m.
(Find out where and when the solar eclipse will be visible to you at Eclipse2017.org)
How to watch the solar eclipse online
If you aren't able to witness the solar eclipse in person, there are still ways for you to experience the celestial event.
NASA will be hosting two livestreams on Monday: one that follows the eclipse as it makes its way across the U.S.
, and another from Carbondale, Illinois, a town that is being called the “crossroads” of the eclipse because it lies along the path of totality for this solar eclipse and another in 2024.
How to watch the solar eclipse safely
REMEMBER to never look directly at the sun during an eclipse — During the very brief period of totality, you are safe to gaze at the sun, because the moon's shadow has completely blotted out the light.
But at all other times, looking directly at the sun can harm your eyes. You must wear solar eclipse viewers; sunglasses won't do the trick. Here's a visual step-by-step guide (and a video) for how to make your own viewers.
Solar eclipse viewers
Here are some other resources you may find helpful:
How did ancient people view the eclipse?
Others saw the bizarre darkening of the skies as omens and even as inspiration for superstitions:
Why does the path of totality move West to East?
Solar Eclipse Glasses: Where to Buy the Best, High-Quality Eyewear
If you plan to experience the Great South American Total Solar Eclipse on July 2, hopefully you've heard by now that you're going to need eye protection for the big event.
But not all solar viewers are created equal. Using the wrong gear (or using it incorrectly) can burn your retinas, causing irreparable damage to your eyes.
Whether you're looking for a new pair of eclipse glasses or you've already purchased some form of eye protection, here's what you need to know to avoid burning your eyes during a solar eclipse.
Related: Total Solar Eclipse 2019: Video Streams and Webcasts to Watch Live
You should never look directly at the sun, but there are ways to safely observe an eclipse. See how to safely observe a solar eclipse with this Space.com infographic. (Image credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com Contributor)
Before the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, many reports surfaced of consumers unknowingly purchasing unsafe or counterfeit solar viewing glasses.
If you have already purchased eclipse glasses, there are ways to test whether your glasses are safe to use.
If you haven't purchased eclipse viewers yet, be sure to purchase a pair from one of the manufacturers or vendors that have been approved by the American Astronomical Society.
If you're looking to buy eclipse glasses online, try to buy directly from one of the approved vendors.
How Can You Prepare for the August Solar Eclipse?
How much of an eclipse will I see?
The geographic region that will see a total solar eclipse, known as the path of totality, is 70 miles wide, hitting land westward of Salem, Oregon (just south of Portland) around 10:15am and moving out over the Atlantic Ocean around 2:50pm just after passing through Columbia, South Carolina. Other cities in the path of totality include Salem, Oregon, Nashville, Tennessee, and parts of both Kansas City and St Louis. For detailed maps of the path of totality, check out the website eclipse2017.org.
How long will the eclipse last?
The eclipse will take just 1 hour and 33 minutes to move across the United States. Those in Oregon will see a shorter eclipse as the shadow will hit the Earth at an angle there causing it to cover a larger portion of its path than when viewed straight on.
In western Oregon, the shadow will clock speeds around 2410 miles per hour compared to speeds as low as 1462 miles per hour in western Kentucky. At a given location, the Sun will be at least partially eclipsed up to 2-3 hours with totality lasting between 2-3 minutes.
NASA has an extremely informative interactive map that allows you to click on your location to learn the amount of obscuration you will see, the duration of totality you will experience, as well as the precise time you should head outside to look. Vox also has a cool tool that allows you to enter your zip code to get an idea of how the eclipse will look from your perspective.
What else will I see during the eclipse?
If you are in the path of totality or close to it, you should be able to see phenomena that are usually otherwise overpowered by the Sun’s light.
The Sun’s corona, a wispy layer of plasma surrounding our star, for example, is visible during totality as a ring around the black disk that is the obscured Sun.
In fact, scientists have several experiments planned to study the corona while the Moon conveniently blocks the rest of the Sun’s light.
You should also see other stars! There are always stars in the sky during the day – we just usually cannot see them as they outshone by a much closer star, the Sun.
While the Moon and the Sun have conveniently placed themselves so that the smaller yet closer Moon appears precisely the same size as the larger but more distant Sun from our perspective, the Moon does not have a smooth surface.
Our Moon has hundreds of craters that, without erosion, plate tectonics, or volcanism, have stood the test of time.
As the Moon obscures the Sun, the bumpy lunar surface will allow spots of light to appear along the edge of the eclipse known as Bailey’s beads.
Natural phenomenon wherein the Sun is obscured by the Moon
For the video game, see Solar Eclipse (video game). For the song, see Solar Eclipse (song).
“Eclipse of the Sun” redirects here. For the film, see Eclipse of the Sun (film). For the novel, see Eclipse of the Sun (novel).
A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon completely covers the Sun's disk, as seen in this 1999 solar eclipse. Solar prominences can be seen along the limb (in red) as well as extensive coronal filaments.
An annular solar eclipse (left) occurs when the Moon is too far away to completely cover the Sun's disk (May 20, 2012). During a partial solar eclipse (right), the Moon blocks only part of the Sun's disk (October 23, 2014).
A solar eclipse occurs when a portion of the Earth is engulfed in a shadow cast by the Moon which fully or partially blocks sunlight. This occurs when the Sun, Moon and Earth are aligned. Such alignment coincides with a new moon (syzygy) indicating the Moon is closest to the ecliptic plane. In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. In partial and annular eclipses, only part of the Sun is obscured.
If the Moon were in a perfectly circular orbit, a little closer to the Earth, and in the same orbital plane, there would be total solar eclipses every new moon.
However, since the Moon's orbit is tilted at more than 5 degrees to the Earth's orbit around the Sun, its shadow usually misses Earth. A solar eclipse can only occur when the Moon is close enough to the ecliptic plane during a new moon.
Special conditions must occur for the two events to coincide because the Moon's orbit crosses the ecliptic at its orbital nodes twice every draconic month (27.212220 days) while a new moon occurs one every synodic month (29.530587981 days).
Solar (and lunar) eclipses therefore happen only during eclipse seasons resulting in at least two, and up to five, solar eclipses each year; no more than two of which can be total eclipses.
Total eclipses are rare because the timing of the new moon within the eclipse season needs to be more exact for an alignment between the observer (on Earth) and the centers of the Sun and Moon.
In addition, the elliptical orbit of the Moon often takes it far enough away from Earth that its apparent size is not large enough to block the Sun entirely.
Total solar eclipses are rare at any particular location because totality exists only along a narrow path on the Earth's surface traced by the Moon's full shadow or umbra.
An eclipse is a natural phenomenon. However, in some ancient and modern cultures, solar eclipses were attributed to supernatural causes or regarded as bad omens. A total solar eclipse can be frightening to people who are unaware of its astronomical explanation, as the Sun seems to disappear during the day and the sky darkens in a matter of minutes.
Since looking directly at the Sun can lead to permanent eye damage or blindness, special eye protection or indirect viewing techniques are used when viewing a solar eclipse. It is safe to view only the total phase of a total solar eclipse with the unaided eye and without protection.
This practice must be undertaken carefully, though the extreme fading of the solar brightness by a factor of over 100 times in the last minute before totality makes it obvious when totality has begun and it is for that extreme variation and the view of the solar corona that leads people to travel to the zone of totality (the partial phases span over two hours while the total phase can only last a maximum of 7.5 minutes for any one location and is usually less). People referred to as eclipse chasers or umbraphiles will travel even to remote locations to observe or witness predicted central solar eclipses.
Partial and annular phases of solar eclipse on May 20, 2012
There are four types of solar eclipses:
- A total eclipse occurs when the dark silhouette of the Moon completely obscures the intensely bright light of the Sun, allowing the much fainter solar corona to be visible. During any one eclipse, totality occurs at best only in a narrow track on the surface of Earth. This narrow track is called the path of totality.
- An annular eclipse occurs when the Sun and Moon are exactly in line with the Earth, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. Hence the Sun appears as a very bright ring, or annulus, surrounding the dark disk of the Moon.
- A hybrid eclipse (also called annular/total eclipse) shifts between a total and annular eclipse. At certain points on the surface of Earth, it appears as a total eclipse, whereas at other points it appears as annular. Hybrid eclipses are comparatively rare.
- A partial eclipse occurs when the Sun and Moon are not exactly in line with the Earth and the Moon only partially obscures the Sun. This phenomenon can usually be seen from a large part of the Earth outside of the track of an annular or total eclipse. However, some eclipses can only be seen as a partial eclipse, because the umbra passes above the Earth's polar regions and never intersects the Earth's surface. Partial eclipses are virtually unnoticeable in terms of the Sun's brightness, as it takes well over 90% coverage to notice any darkening at all. Even at 99%, it would be no darker than civil twilight. Of course, partial eclipses (and partial stages of other eclipses) can be observed if one is viewing the Sun through a darkening filter (which should always be used for safety).
Comparison of minimum and maximum apparent sizes of the Sun and Moon (and planets). An annular eclipse can occur when the Sun has a larger apparent size than the Moon, whereas a total eclipse can occur when the Moon has a larger apparent size.
The Sun's distance from Earth is about 400 times the Moon's distance, and the Sun's diameter is about 400 times the Moon's diameter. Because these ratios are approximately the same, the Sun and the Moon as seen from Earth appear to be approximately the same size: about 0.5 degree of arc in angular measure.
A separate category of solar eclipses is that of the Sun being occluded by a body other than the Earth's Moon, as can be observed at points in space away from the Earth's surface. Two examples are when the crew of Apollo 12 observed the Earth eclipse the Sun in 1969 and when the Cassini probe observed Saturn eclipsing the Sun in 2006.
The Moon's orbit around the Earth is slightly elliptical, as is the Earth's orbit around the Sun. The apparent sizes of the Sun and Moon therefore vary.
 The magnitude of an eclipse is the ratio of the apparent size of the Moon to the apparent size of the Sun during an eclipse. An eclipse that occurs when the Moon is near its closest distance to Earth (i.e.
, near its perigee) can be a total eclipse because the Moon will appear to be large enough to completely cover the Sun's bright disk or photosphere; a total eclipse has a magnitude greater than or equal to 1.000.
Conversely, an eclipse that occurs when the Moon is near its farthest distance from Earth (i.e., near its apogee) can only be an annular eclipse because the Moon will appear to be slightly smaller than the Sun; the magnitude of an annular eclipse is less than 1.