On August 21st a total solar eclipse will sweep across the United States from coast-to-coast, offering stunning views and almost complete darkness to millions of people in 14 states from Oregon to South Carolina.
NASA (@NASA) July 30, 2017
So we’ve prepared 11 vital tips on how to stare at the shadow of the sun if you’re lucky enough to be in the the path of the eclipse on the day:
1. You absolutely MUST wear special glasses to look at the sun during an eclipse, otherwise you risk serious, permanent damage to your eyes.
Eclipse-proof glasses all bear the ISO 12312-2 rating.
Put on the glasses while looking away, and then turn your head to the sun.
2. The eclipse lasts a very short amount of time. Even people in the centre of the 113 km-wide shadow can only expect about two and a half minutes of night-like darkness. This eclipse shadow will travel at speeds of between 2,129km/h and 3,600km/h.
3. This kind of eclipse is rare. It’s the first total eclipse to pass over North America from coast-to-coast since 1918 – that’s 99 years ago.
The next one to do the same coast-to-coast run will be on August 12th 2045.
4. Two specially-converted jet aircraft will observe the eclipse for a total of 7 minutes
They will carry cameras taking photos at 30 frames per second of the corona, the mysterious outer edge of the sun. This should give scientists their best-ever observations of high-frequency phenomena in the solar atmosphere.
5. If you happen to be in a boat at dawn in the north Pacific on the morning of 21st August 2017 you won’t see the sunrise, because the eclipse will already be covering the sun. This is a sight that even veteran eclipse-watchers have seldom seen. The eclipse will actually make landfall at about 10.15 am local time, just north of Newport, Oregon.
6. Everyone can help American space agency NASA during the eclipse by measuring the air temperature and cloud cover during the moments of darkness. The data reported on the Globe Observer app will create a unique new set for scientists studying the Earth system.
7. A spacecraft called DSCOVR will watch the eclipse from space. The NASA satellite is the only Earth-observer to be far enough from our planet to see it in its entirety. It will monitor the progress of the Moon’s shadow throughout the eclipse from a distance of 1.5 million kilometres.
8. The eclipse passes over many major US cities, including: Idaho Falls, Idaho; Casper, Wyoming; Grand Island & Lincoln, Nebraska; Kansas City, Kansas; St Louis, Missouri; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; Greenville and Charleston, South Carolina.
9. It’s going to be busy out there. An estimated 12 million people already live in what’s known as the ‘path of totality,’ the part where it goes almost completely dark, while 200 million people live within a day’s drive of the eclipse’s path. Some schools will be closed for the event, other schools have special events, and plenty of science fans are planning ‘eclipse parties’.
10. Solar eclipses have often been associated with doom and gloom, and 2017 is no exception. Astrologers have suggested this shadow across the US spells bad news for President Donald Trump. Scientists have, of course, said this is utter hogwash.
11. This is the first eclipse of its kind to come in the era of social media. We suggest following the #Eclipse2017 hashtag.