Eclipse Mania Strikes the U.S.!

Posted by on Aug 17, 2017 in Science and Technology

In case you haven’t heard, the United States will experience a total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. How much of it you will see depends on where you live. Already, millions of Americans are making plans to travel to parts of the country where they will get a better view of this incredibly rare phenomenon. Still others are buying eclipse glasses in bulk and planning eclipse-themed parties and events. It’s Eclipse Mania!

What’s the Big Deal?

A total eclipse occurs when the moon entirely blocks the sun and its corona (its fuzzy atmosphere). This total solar eclipse is a big deal because it will be the first one in 38 years to be visible from the U.S. mainland. Because of this, scientists are already calling the 2017 eclipse “The Great American Eclipse.”

What Will Happen?

Other countries outside of the United States will only experience a partial solar eclipse. Here in the U.S., however, the 70-mile-wide “path of totality” stretches across parts of 14 states. Already, residents who live inside of this thin strip have been warned to expect a high volume of tourists, as people congregate in these areas to experience the total eclipse in its most dramatic form. The path of the eclipse will move from west to east, beginning at 9:05 am PDT at Lincoln Beach, Oregon, and ending near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 pm EDT.

Though the whole experience from beginning to end should last about three hours, the longest that the sun will appear to be blocked out completely will be two minutes and forty seconds, which will happen near Carbondale, Illinois.

One Warning….

Remember that looking directly at the sun is dangerous, and can lead to permanent eye damage and even blindness.

But the excitement of this event might make you forget or ignore this rule when it comes to watching an eclipse. The eclipse can only be safely viewed by wearing special glasses that block out enough of the sun’s light that it won’t damage your eyes. These glasses are much darker than regular sunglasses. But they are still not 100% safe.

First of all, most glasses are sized for adults only, making children vulnerable when the glasses don’t fit their faces well enough to stay on securely. Secondly, because the glasses are so dark, people have the tendency to “peek” around the edges of them to get a better view, which can cause permanent eye damage. And third, as eclipse mania spreads, there have been reports of fraudulent and unapproved glasses being sold, especially by online retailers (eclipse viewing glasses should always be ISO- and CE-certified).

For these reasons, many experts recommend watching the eclipse the one way that is truly safe: on television.

Dig Deeper Curious about the best time to view the eclipse in your community? Visit the NASA interactive map, which will tell you the precise start, peak, and end times for the eclipse from your home. Don’t forget protective eyewear!