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August 21, 2017 - Total Solar Eclipse Facts for the USA

By Edited Sep 22, 2016 0 0


On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible in the United States from Oregon to South Carolina along a narrow track. People located outside of the track will see a partial event. Those in the track, the totality zone, will see the entire spectacle of the total solar eclipse. The difference is profound. At the St. Louis Gateway Arch, less than three miles from the totality zone, the event will cause the level of sunlight to greatly diminish but the most stunning effects will be missing. At 99.9% eclipsed, the Arch is just outside. By contrast, the famous Anheuser-Busch brewery is barely within the zone so the full effects occur there.

Separation of the Moon and the Earth
Each year, the moon slows as it orbits the Earth. This results in a gradual change to the orbit, taking it farther away from the Earth. Since the moon is very small, as is the shadow it cases, the increase in distance between the moon and the Earth will make the moon's shadow smaller over time. In less than 1.5 billion years, the moon will have moved too far away from the Earth to cause a total solar eclipse. From then on, only annular and partial solar eclipses will be possible.

Darkness in the Daytime
When the sun is in full eclipse, the sky darkens enough to reveal planets and bright stars in the daytime. On August 21, 2017, the planets Jupiter, Mars and Venus will be visible to observers. As well, the bright stars such as Sirus and Rigel, and others, may be revealed. Actual viewing of the planets and stars will be highly dependent on the amount of cloud, if any, present during the event.

Plan for the Big Event

August 21, 2017 - Total Solar Eclipse Planning Guide
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Plan to get mooned!

The Eclipse Starts Here!

The eclipse event starts in Lincoln City, Oregon.

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Lincoln City, OR, USA

Eclipses Can Prove the Theory of Relativity

Albert Einstein stated that a total solar eclipse could be used to prove the General Theory of Relativity. He said that the event would cause light from distant stars to be bent by the mass of the sun, for observers on Earth. Thus stars located behind the sun would appear shifted from their calculated position. During 1919, observers used an eclipse to verify Einstein's statement.

Eclipses Show the Solar Corona
When the moon completely blocks the sun's disc, the amount of sunlight is reduced by about 99%. This is enough to reveal the solar corona, the super heated atmosphere of the sun. This wispy feature is unique during each eclipse. It varies depending on the level of solar magnetic storm activity during the event.

A Mystery to the Ancients
Peoples of ancient civilizations did not understand eclipses. They were attributed to demons or supernatural happenings. Bad omens were attached to the event by many groups. Some were able to calculate when an event might occur, but not where it would be visible.

Protect Eyesight!

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Proper protection such as these goggles is necessary during the partial phase portion of the event.

The Eclipse Ends Here!

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Charleston, SC, USA

Duration of Totality

Theoretically, the maximum duration of a solar eclipse is about 7 minutes. The maximum duration of the 2017 event is less than half this value. Those located near Hopkinsville, Kentucky will experience about 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality. The shadow of the moon falls as a circular spot on the Earth. It begins in Oregon and tracks east across the United States. It finishes at the South Carolina shore and proceeds out over the Atlantic Ocean. Those observers located along the center of the moon's shadow track will experience the longest duration of totality.

Split Cities

St. Louis is split by the August 21, 2017 event. Areas to the south of the Gateway Arch will see the effects. Everyone else, including those at the Arch, will not. The amount of time for totality in St. Louis varies from a few seconds near the edge of the moon's shadow to perhaps 30 seconds. Farther away, some 30 miles or so, duration is greatly increased to more than two minutes. Kansas City, Missouri is also split with areas north of the Missouri River experiencing more of the spectacle.

Frequency of Solar Events

Any given point on the Earth's surface is likely to experience a total solar eclipse once every 400 years. This is not absolute. The 2017 event comes to Oregon 36 years after the 1979 event in the same location. In fact, the earlier event started at Lincoln City, just as the 2017 one does. The track of the 1979 event was to the northeast while the 2017 tracks southeast. This puts the cities of Carbondale, IL, and Cape Girardeau, MO, in the eclipse path. Both of these cities are also in the zone for the next USA eclipse which occurs in 2024. These short durations between eclipses are very unusual, although it is unusual that the majority of the United States has not experienced totality since 1979. It could be hundreds of years before Oregon and Missouri see another eclipse after 2024.

Maximum Duration of Totality is Here

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Hopkinsville, KY, USA

Preserve the Moment

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Be sure to have a quality camera on hand to record the event!

Weather Effects

As the sun is covered by the moon, the amount of sunlight cast will be greatly reduced. As this progresses, there will be much less solar heating provided to the Earth. Since the sun's heat drives the weather, the shading of the sun often causes interesting local effects. The amount of wind can drop, even to dead still. This can halt the movement of clouds. Thus as the eclipse progresses, the weather could stall. Clouds that threaten the view of the event may be halted. This can either leave them obscuring the view or rendering them harmless to local observers. After the moon moves past in it's orbit, the level of sunlight will be increased again. The weather will restart.

Safety For Observers
Before totality, a partial phase occurs. At no time during this phase is the sun safe to look at with the naked eye. Even if a great majority of the sun's disc is obscurred, it is not safe to view. Observers must not look at the sun or they must use appropriate eye protection. Indirect viewing through an image projection system is safe as well.[1]

Safety First!

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All members of the family should have a pair of these goggles.

The Eclipse Starts in Oregon



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  1. "Eclipse USA." Eclipse USA. 20/01/2015 <Web >

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