Total Solar Eclipse 2017 ImageCredit: javrsmith

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible in the United States. This event will track from the Oregon Pacific Coast to the South Carolina Atlantic Coast, and many states between as the moon covers the sun. There has not been a total solar eclipse in the USA since Hawaii in 1991. The Continental United States has not had such an experience since 1979. August 21, 2017 promises to be a date to remember. Planning is underway now for many people who wish to experience this amazing natural phenomenon.

Prepare for the Total Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017 - Total Solar Eclipse Planning Guide
Amazon Price: Buy Now
(price as of Jan 1, 2017)

The 2017 USA Total Solar Eclipse Starts Here

8/21/2017 on the Oregon Coast

Protect Eyesight During Partial Eclipse Phases

Partial Eclipse Experienced for the Vast Majority of North American Locations

Partial EclipseCredit: javrsmith

Although totality is visible in the USA on 8/21/2017, it will only be seen by those located between Oregon and South Carolina on the path of the eclipse. The path is a narrow swath of land that is only about 70 miles wide. Those located outside this narrow band will only see a partial solar eclipse. The amount of the sun's disc that is covered by the moon will vary greatly depending on the latitude and longitude of the observer. (Link 1, Link 2)

The Duration of Totality Varies Greatly Depending on Location
Those located in the center of the eclipse path, directly in the middle of the moon's shadow on the Earth's surface, will experience the longest duration of totality. The event starts on the Oregon Coast where Lincoln Beach is the first community in the center of the shadow path. Here, the duration is nearly 2 minutes. As the moon's shadow traces eastward, the duration of totality increases. Those in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, will experience the longest period of totality, over 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Further east, the duration starts to decrease again. When the eclipse passes Awendaw, SC, the duration will be just over 2.5 minutes. It is even less as the eclipse winds down far out to sea in the Atlantic Ocean.

Capture the Whole Eclipse Experience

Nashville, Tennessee is the Biggest Eclipse City

Nashville DarkCredit: javrsmith

The eclipse passes directly through Nashville. Well over a million local residents will be able to experience the eclipse from their own homes. The sun will be blotted out for nearly 2 minutes in the Music City. At the Grand Ole Opry, about 10 miles from downtown Nashville, the sun will be eclipsed for nearly 2.25 minutes. The sun will be high overhead for viewers here. This will ring the city with vivid twilight colors, provided that the weather is clear on the day.

Solar Eclipse Filter for Telescopes

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri Just Misses Out

Gateway ArchCredit: javrsmith

The Gateway Arch will experience a 99.97% partial eclipse. Here, a very thin sliver of sunlight will stream past the moon. This will spoil the most vivid eclipse experience for viewers. While the area will be very dark, there will still be some daylight. The sun's corona, only visible during totality, will not be visible from the Arch. Sunlight conditions here will potentially be very dangerous to the naked eye. Because so much of the sun is obscured, people may falsely believe that they can view the partial eclipse directly. Unfortunately, the exposed sliver of sunlight is still full strength. If it is observed without proper eye protection, the viewer risks damage to their optic nerve. Since this location does not have pain receptors, the viewer will not even know that damage is occurring. Since the sun is so faint, they will not have the natural reaction to avert their eyes. Protective gear is inexpensive, and it is vital to use such equipment at the St. Louis Gateway Arch, and all other partial eclipse locations.

Epic Traffic Jams are Possible

Past total solar eclipses have shown that many people drive to totality locations, often at the last minute. This has the potential for causing sizable traffic jams in many US locations. As the eclipse starts at 10:15 AM on the Oregon Coast, it may completely jam Highway 101. The road here is incapable of handling a significant number of eclipse visitors. There is extremely limited parking in the zone of totality. Many viewers may opt to park along the highway, or on side streets. It may take hours to clear the resultant jamming.

Farther to the east, Glendo and Torrington, Wyoming, are both poised to experience large traffic jams as well. These cities are very small with few local services. Many thousands of visitors are likely to travel here from Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Denver, Colorado. As they do, they will overload the local highway system. As the eclipse time draws near at about 11:46 AM, visitors may be in miles of backups. Many will pull off the highways to park and enjoy the eclipse. The traffic jams will not clear for several hours. The same local traffic jams were very common in Europe in 1999 even though the highway infrastructure there was much more developed than in Wyoming.

See Stars and Planets That are Visible in the Daytime

Stars in the DaytimeCredit: javrsmith

When totality is underway, several bright stars and planets will emerge for viewers. Winter stars such as Sirius, Arcturus and Procyon will be seen to the west, and east of the eclipsed sun. The planet Mars will be close to the sun to the west while Mercury will be slightly to the east. Farther to the west, in line with the sun and Mars, Venus will shine brightly in the daytime sky. To the east, in line with the sun and Mercury, Jupiter will be prominent, and adjacent to the bright star Spica. Of the orbs visible on eclipse day, Venus will be the brightest, followed by Jupiter, Mars and Sirius.