The South Asian Times

23 October 2017 09:39 AM

The thrill of total solar eclipse over America

By Shiv Chopra

On August 21, America will witness the greatest total solar eclipse in a hundred years. What is a total solar eclipse? It is when the moon, passing directly in between the sun and the earth, completely covers the Sun, revealing the Sun’s atmosphere, otherwise invisible. This results in an explosion of light around the moon known as the diamond ring effect. 

At first, you would think that the Moon shouldn’t exactly cover the Sun. It just so happens that the Sun is 400 times bigger than the Moon, but the Moon is 400 times closer to the Earth. This peculiar coincidence attracts eclipse chasers from around the world.

Why is this eclipse special? This eclipse will take place entirely in America spanning from the west to east coast, the first time since 1918. All of the US will be able to see at least a partial eclipse. The total eclipse can only be seen in a 70 mile wide band that runs coast to coast.

Regardless of what type of eclipse you will encounter, make sure to get yourself a pair of solar filter sunglasses which block about 99.99% of the sunlight. If you choose to look up at the sky with your bare eyes, you can do irreversible damage to them. But, be careful of which ones you buy, not all manufacturers sell glasses that are up to code.

Will I get to see the total eclipse? In the Tri-State area, we will see a 70% eclipse, which means that the sun will, at the peak of the eclipse, be 70% covered by the moon. The best place for those living on the east coast to see total eclipse is Columbia in South Carolina, which is right in the band of total eclipse. There total eclipse will be visible for the longest time.

Eclipse watcher are traveling long distances for this once-in-a-lifetime celestial sight. Flights and hotels for cities along the path of total eclipse are selling out fast. If you don’t want to put that much effort into chasing the total eclipse, but definitely want to see it,  you can watch plethora of livestreams and news broadcasts, which will show the total eclipse as it happens.

When is the eclipse? The eclipse will take place in the afternoon on Monday, August 21. The total eclipse will reach the west coast of US at 1:20 EST and leave at the east coast of US at 2:50 EST.

The next total solar eclipse will take place in 2019 but will mostly happen over the Pacific Ocean and the southern portion of South America. But in 2024, another solar eclipse will pass over Mexico and will cover a significant portion of eastern US.

Update: 12 Aug, 2017