Solar eclipse 101: this is hysterical.
How will you experience this cosmic phenomenon? Some tips follow…The ‘path of totality’ where – briefly – complete darkness will fall, is about 70 miles wide, but the eclipse will be partially visible all across the U.S. So wherever you are in this great land, you’ll witness something.
NASA is all over this.
From live streaming the day-of to info for amateurs and scientists alike, NASA maintains the official website for the eclipse. To borrow from their jargon, this is your ‘command central’.
What happens along the path of totality.
As the eclipse moves the country, it will pitch the ‘path’ – that 70 mile-wide strip – into total nighttime darkness for about 2 minutes: stars will come out, the temperature will drop. Then, as it passes, things return to normal afternoon daylight. No question that total nighttime darkness in the middle of the day will be eerie.
Eclipseville, otherwise known as Hopkinsville, KY, will have the longest-lasting period of total darkness – 2 minutes, 40 seconds – occurring in the early afternoon. They’ve set up a live cam AND a bourbon tasting – how festive is that?
In other areas of the country that will experience a partial eclipse, the elapsed time will be longer – more like a couple of hours
To see how the eclipsed sun will look in your area (by zip code) and for how long, click here.
NASA will also live stream the eclipse as it moves from coast to coast.
Coverage will begin at 12n ET with first shadow hitting Oregon coast at 10:16 AM PT (1:16 PM ET). It will take an hour and a half to cross the American continent, moving off the South Carolina coast just before 3 PM ET.
What if it’s cloudy?
Mother Nature has the last say, but we’ll notice diminished daylight in the partial eclipse area even if it’s cloudy.
The National Weather Service has set up an interactive website for the eclipse – plug in any zip code.
Looking at the solar eclipse!
Really simple: don’t look directly at the partial eclipse without special glasses. If you’re in the total darkness of the “path” it’s okay to glimpse when the sun is entirely obscured by the moon.
However, on either side of the few minutes of total darkness, the sun will brighten and create what looks like a diamond ring around the moon. Do not look at it directly; serious eye damage could result. It’s beautiful but dangerous.
The same is true for your camera – you’ll need special filters to protect the camera lens – and that includes phone cameras.
Here’s a great article about the risk to lenses, human and camera.
To watch the eclipse safely: remember the pinhole projectors from childhood? Showing a silhouette of an object through a “pinhole?”
NASA makes this easy -and fun with downloadable “pinhole projectors” in the shape of each state. All you need is a printer and 8×11 sheet of paper and voila – watch the shadow of the moon cross the sun through the shape of your favorite state.
Or, go old school with this easy download from trendy eyeglass merchant Warby Parker. All you really need is a couple of index cards for this one or you can print out their bespoke form.
There’s always the ‘next one.’
The next solar eclipse will arc diagonally across North America from Mexico, the U.S. and Canada on April 8, 2024.
In the meantime, here’s to fair skies from sea to shining sea for the Great American Eclipse.
Lastly, here are a few suggestions for an eclipse-themed picnic…yes, crescent cookies of course! And lots more….
What’s your eclipse story? Leave it in the comments below!
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