Once-in-lifetime event will be visible locally, special glasses available
For the first time since 1979, the United States will experience a total solar eclipse on Mon., Aug. 21.
The solar event will start over Oregon and continue across 14 states before ending over South Carolina at 2:45 local time.
However, a partial eclipse will extend well beyond those states.
In fact, the moon will obscure 85.8 percent of the sun in Andalusia beginning at about 1:03 p.m., according to the U.S. Naval Observatory. The eclipse will last two hours and 58 minutes, with the maximum eclipse expected at 2:35 p.m. That is, of course, assuming it’s not a cloudy day.
What is a solar eclipse? As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and earth, and the moon fully or partially blocks the sun.
The last total eclipse was visible in the United States in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota) on Feb. 26, 1979, according to NASA.
While a total eclipse was seen on the Big Island of Hawaii on July 11, 1991, no other total eclipse has been visible in the lower 48 states between 1979 and 2017 — a lapse of more than 38 years.
This year’s eclipse will be visible to a lot of people.
Everyone in the contiguous United States, in fact, everyone in North America plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will see at least a partial solar eclipse, while the thin path of totality will pass through portions of 14 states.
However, don’t blink or you might miss it. For this eclipse, the longest period when the moon completely blocks the sun from any given location along the path will be about two minutes and 40 seconds.
The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Ore., at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT. Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT.
Experts have been cautioning skygazers and, especially, schools to never look directly at the sun, which could cause eye damage.
You can find protective glasses at the Andalusia Public Library. The glasses are free, but are at a limited supply. Karin Taylor, librarian, said the library has 280 pairs of the protective glasses, which will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning at 8 a.m. on Aug. 16.
However, there are many ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun including direct viewing – which requires some type of filtering device, and indirect viewing where you project an image of the sun onto a screen.
The next total eclipse in the U.S. will be April 9, 2024,
Information from NASA.gov was used for this story.