August 21, 2017 is the Big Day
On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible to people located in the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. The maximum duration of totality will be over 2.5 minutes in some places. This is an event which is exceedingly rare and it simply cannot be missed. Proper planning should begin now.
The Last USA Total Solar Eclipse
The last such event occurred in 1991 in Hawaii. It then tracked across the Pacific Ocean, ending in Mexico and Central America. The last to visit the continental United States was in February, 1979. In the 38 years since, fans of the solar event had to visit distant lands such as Europe or Australia to see the phenomenon. In 2017, it comes to us.
Oregon Coast, First Contact
The show starts on the Oregon Coast between the seaside communities of Depoe Bay and Lincoln City. Visitors and residents will be treated to a mid-morning show as the moon covers the sun. The shadow of the moon covers a large part of the Earth causing a partial eclipse. Only a very narrow band from Oregon to South Carolina will have the sun totally blocked.
First contact will occur when the moon appears to touch the disc of the sun. From then, a partial phase will start. The moon gradually moves in its orbit, covering more and more of the sun. Most areas of North America will see this phase. Most of the continent will see a varying amount of the sun eclipsed. For them, the landscape will darken. Some changes will be noticed in the ambient light. Animals and insects may even change their behavior. The truly magical effects, however, will be missing.
Totality is the period of time when the sun's light is completely blocked for a small area on Earth. Viewers there will be completely shadowed. Many effects can be seen. Most happen at no other time.
Time to Prepare for the Total Solar Eclipse
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The August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse begins on the Oregon coast at Lincoln Beach.
Lincoln Beach, OR, USA
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The area around Hopkinsville, KY, experiences the longest duration of totality.
Hopkinsville, KY, USA
In Oregon, the eclipse will be visible on the Pacific Coast first. The communities of Depoe Bay and Lincoln City see it first. Salem and Baker City experience totality as well. The cities of Portland, Eugene and Bend are not in the zone of totality.
In Idaho, Boise is just south of the narrow band. Idaho Falls is within.
In Wyoming, Casper is treated to the entire event. Cheyenne is too far south and experiences the partial phase only.
North Platte, Grand Island and Lincoln, Nebraska are within the narrow zone. Omaha is just outside to the north.
In Missouri, Kansas City and St. Louis are bisected by the zone of totality. Fans in Kansas City will want to be north of Interstate-70 while those in St. Louis should be south of the St. Louis Zoo.
As the solar eclipse tracks east, the cities of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Carbondale, Illinois experience totality. These cities are significant because they actually will experience two events in short order. After a drought since 1979 for the continental United States, these two cities are lucky to see two periods of totality. The first is in 2017, the second just seven years later in 2024.
Hopkinsville, Kentucky represents the mid-point of the eclipse path. It is here where the duration will be the longest. As a result, many viewers will want to travel to this area for the longest event. Bowling Green, Kentucky also experiences totality, but over a minute less duration that at Hopkinsville.
Nashville, Tennessee is within the zone. Chattanooga and Knoxville are not.
While the shadow of the moon traces across North Carolina, only the small city of Murphy is within the zone. Charlotte, Fayetteville and Wilmington are too far north.
A small area of Georgia is within the zone but the cities of Athens, Augusta, Atlanta, and Savannah are not.
The 2017 USA total solar eclipse finishes in South Carolina. This small state is treated to a wide patch of totality. The cities of Greenville, Columbia and Charleston experience the full show. Myrtle Beach does not as it is located some 23 miles too far north.
The 2017 solar event ends on the beaches of South Carolina as the shadow of the moon travels out to sea on the Atlantic Ocean. The shoals around Bulls Bay will see the last of the features. This will mark the end of the astronomical event which tracked from the Pacific Coast at Oregon, to the Atlantic Coast of South Carolina. It will be the first such event for the United States since 1991. The first for Continental States since 1979.
Next USA Solar Eclipse
Luckily, those in the United States will not have to wait nearly as long to experience totality again. After 2017, the next one will visit the USA in April of 2024. That event will cross the country from the south to the north. The cities of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Carbondale, Illinois, will see both the 2017 and 2024 events.
The Attraction of the Event
Many will wonder why all the fuss. After all, this is only about a 2.5 minute show, maximum. Part of the attraction involves the rarity. These solar events do not visit any one place very often. As well, none has come to North America for over 23 years. Then there is the spectacle. When the moon covers the sun, the life force of the Earth is blocked. Although a temporary, and thoroughly understood occurrence, it still evokes primal responses in people. In addition, the familiar sun is replaced with a black spot in the sky, surrounded by a halo which is the sun's corona. The corona, a superheated solar atmosphere, is not visible to the naked eye at any other time.
Awendaw, South Carolina is one of the last communities to see the 2017 total solar eclipse.
Awendaw, SC, USA
Last Chance for 7 Years
After the 2017 total solar eclipse, another event does not occur in the United States until 2024. These are fairly uncommon so it is a great idea to make plans to see one in the USA. With proper planning, you will have a fantastic experience.