Total solar eclipse 101: your guide to enjoying it safely
This Monday, August 21st, something big is about to happen. One of the most notable astronomical events, a total solar eclipse, will be visible across the skies. A solar eclipse occurs when the paths of the Earth, moon, and sun all align, so that it appears as if the moon is blocking out all of the light from the sun.
This will be the first solar eclipse in 99 years to be visible from coast to coast across the U.S.! Specific locations in a 70 mile wide path across the U.S. will offer views of the total eclipse. If you will be traveling to a destination along the line of totality, you can expect to see the skies darken for up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds as the moon completely covers the sun. If you’re not in one of these locations, you’ll still get to see and enjoy a partial eclipse.
Here are some of the best locations and times where you will be able to see the total solar eclipse:
- Madras, OR 10:19 AM
- Snake River Valley, ID 11:33
- Casper, WY 11:42 AM
- Lincoln, NE 1:03 PM
- St. Joseph, MO 1:06 PM
- Carbondale, IL 1:20 PM
- Nashville, TN 1:27 PM
- Charleston, SC 2:43 PM
With such an important astronomical event occurring, make sure that you are watching it safely! Here are some important things to expect and keep in mind this Monday:
Don’t forget your solar glasses!
Regardless of where you are in the U.S., make sure you wear solar glasses when you go to look at the solar eclipse. The only way to safely look at the sun during the eclipse is if you are doing so through special solar filter glasses; sunglasses will not protect your retinas effectively as they transmit thousands of times more light. If you happen to be in the path of totality, only remove your glasses when the moon has completely covered the sun. If you are watching a partial eclipse, do not remove your glasses at any point. Remember, do not look at the sun through binoculars or a telescope, as the light will damage the solar filter in the glasses and can still burn your retina and cause serious injury.
Be prepared for it to get chilly
As the moon covers the sun, expect the temperatures to drop! While temperature drops vary based on location and the time of year of the eclipse, you can expect the temperatures to drop suddenly to what they would be around sunset in your location.
Watch out for traffic and drive safely
As this solar eclipse is projected to be the most viewed solar eclipse in U.S. history, if you’re traveling to a spot along the path of totality, be careful on the roads. With people traveling from all over the country to destinations along the path of totality, expect a tremendous influx of visitors and traffic, and make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to your destinations along the center line so you don’t get stuck in a standstill traffic jam. Also, the darkening skies are sure to cause a lot of distractions on the road. Be prepared, know when to turn on your headlights, and if you can’t refrain from driving at that time, be aware of taking precautions to drive safely.
Regardless of where you will be watching the eclipse this Monday, make sure you stop and enjoy this absolutely incredible event, and savor the moment of experiencing something so rare and beautiful.
Author: Maggie Harriman