Next week the United States prepares for a solar eclipse spectacle that will be the first time it encompasses the country from coast to coast in over 100 years. Starting in the west and stretching to the east. On Monday, August 21st, a total solar eclipse will occur and people have been grabbing up glasses and scoping out the best locations across the country to see this rare event.
Nasa’s map of the eclipse path on Monday.
Carbondale, Illinois will have one of the most sought after locations in the country with 80% viewability at 1:19 PM CDT. The rural city is preparing for hoards of sky gazers to set up camp in preparation for the eclipse. They are expecting up to 60,000 people to flock to their city as it is one of a few locations in the U.S. to be momentarily nearly completely flooded with darkness. While majority of the country will experience a partial eclipse, places like Carbondale get the full total eclipse. Meaning, the moon will pass completely over the sun and Earth simultaneously, blotting out the sun entirely (for a few minutes). A partial eclipse is when only part of the sun is blocked by the moon and this process can happen over a few hours. Total eclipses are very rare and usually have weak visibility typically over oceans. The United States saw it’s last solar eclipse in 1979 (visibility weak and only Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Washington).
Keep Your Eyes Safe
The ultraviolet rays are still powerful enough – despite being behind the moon – to do real damage to your eyes. Within the few minutes of the moon passing over the sun, there is crucial time to keep the eyes protected and enough time to view it while staying protected. Nasa gives a full description of the correct timing for the most optimal and safest viewing.
Note: The only safe way to look directly at the un-eclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters like eclipse glasses.
Image source: Mark Margolis Photography.
Pro tip: For those last minute sky gazers looking for a way to view the eclipse (and also eat lunch) – Pizza Hut has a video for you! The tutorial video shows you how to make a pizza box into a safe, eclipse viewing contraption. All you’ll need is the box, some paper, pen, scissors, and tinfoil.
And Bonnie Taylor will be singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” during the eclipse.