On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible in totality within a band across the entire contiguous United States; it will only be visible in other countries as a partial eclipse. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire contiguous United States was during the June 8, 1918 eclipse.
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the sun’s, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth’s surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometers wide.
This eclipse is the 22nd of the 77 members of Saros series 145, which also produced the solar eclipse of August 11, 1999. Members of this series are increasing in duration. The longest eclipse in this series will occur on June 25, 2522 and last for 7 minutes and 12 seconds.
Not since the February 1979 eclipse has a total eclipse been visible from the mainland United States. The path of totality will touch 14 states, though a partial eclipse will be visible in many more states. The event will begin on the Oregon coast as a partial eclipse at 9:06 a.m. PDT on August 21, and will end later that day as a partial eclipse along the South Carolina coast at about 4:06 p.m. EDT.
There are expected to be logistical issues with the influx of visitors, especially for smaller communities. There have also been issues with counterfeit eclipse glasses being sold.
Future total solar eclipses will cross the United States in April 2024 (12 states) and August 2045 (10 states), and annular solar eclipses — meaning the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun — will occur in October 2023 (9 states) a
nd June 2048 (9 states).
There are many excellent places to view the eclipse across the entire path of totality. And the truth is, the best place is where you are inside the path if you have clear skies on the magic day. The foremost criterion for selecting a site is the weather. Any location along the path of totality from Oregon to South Carolina can enjoy good weather on eclipse day, but the western half of the United States, especially from the Willamette Valley of Oregon to the Nebraska Sandhills, will enjoy the very best weather odds. You can watch the weather forecasts starting a week before eclipse day to judge whether you can strike for a spot close to home or drive further afield.
Wherever you go, every eclipse viewer should have a plan for mobility. Even in the sunniest locations, you don’t want to be caught under a cloud during the precious two minutes of totality. Pick a location with a good and uncrowded highway system that you can use to relocate the day before, the morning of, or the hour before the eclipse if weather threatens. The total solar eclipse will be such a spectacle that you won’t regret making the effort to find a clear viewing location. Follow Spotlife Asia for the latest news and updates.
Another piece of advice is to stay flexible in your plan for eclipse day. August is a perfect time of year for camping, so consider bringing a tent or recreational vehicle in case a weather system forces you to relocate several hundred miles. Even if you reserve a hotel room in a prime location, don’t stay fixed to a location if the short-term weather forecast is not favorable.
During totality, when the sun’s disk is completely covered by the moon, it is safe to view the eclipse with the naked eye.
Skywatchers should never look at a partial solar eclipse without proper eye protection. Looking directly at the sun, even when it is partially covered by the moon, can cause serious eye damage or blindness.
Anyone planning to view the total solar eclipse of 2017 should get a pair of solar viewing glasses. These protective shades make it possible for observers to look directly at the sun before and after totality.
Sunglasses cannot be used in place of solar viewing glasses, use eclipse glasses that meet the international standard (ISO 12312-2) recommended by NASA, the AAS and other scientific organizations.