Total Solar Eclipse: Are you ready for this once in a lifetime opportunity?

Composite image | St. George News

UPDATE: In St. George, expect to see the moon cover 76 percent of the sun. The moon will be in the sun’s path starting at 10:11 a.m. and continue for two hours and 45 minutes. If the sky is clear, the best time to see the peak of the eclipse will be 11:30 a.m.

ST. GEORGE — One month from now, on Aug. 21, the sun will disappear across America as the United States experiences a total solar eclipse. Officials are calling it “the sight of a lifetime” as it is the first total solar eclipse to cross the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic in 99 years.

During the celestial event, the moon will pass between the sun and Earth, appearing to block the sun for nearly an hour and a half. The eclipse has been nicknamed the “Great American Eclipse” because the total eclipse path will only pass through the U.S.

Map of eclipse path courtesy of NASA, St. George News

While everyone in North America will experience a portion of the sun being blocked by the moon, 14 states across the U.S. will experience around two minutes of darkness as the eclipse crosses from coast to coast between Oregon and South Carolina.

The path of the eclipse is only 70 miles wide, and those in the eclipse path will experience a total solar eclipse. The closer viewers are to the centerline of the eclipse path, the longer the total solar eclipse will last.

NASA has released an interactive Total Solar Eclipse map which can be used to zoom in on any city and get detailed eclipse information for any location.

The shadow first touches land near Newport, Oregon, at about 10:15 a.m. Pacific Time where viewers will experience a minute and fifty seconds of totality.

The shadow will then cross through Idaho, Wyoming, and Kansas before entering Missouri and crossing into Illinois. From Illinois, the shadow will pass through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and then South Carolina until 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time before heading out to sea.

How to safely view the eclipse

Viewers looking up at the sky to marvel at the celestial sight will need to do so safely because looking directly at the sun, even during a partial eclipse, can easily damage your eyes, according to NASA.

The only safe way to look directly at the sun during the eclipse outside the path of totality is through special-purpose solar filters, like eclipse glasses, or hand-held solar viewers, NASA officials said, noting that sunglasses are not safe for looking at the sun during an eclipse.

Image courtesy of the American Astronomical Society, St. George News

Five manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow SymphonyAmerican Paper OpticsThousand Oaks OpticalTSE 17 and Baader Planetarium, according to the American Astronomical Society.

The Astronomical Society provides the following instructions for safe use of solar filters/viewers:

  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter. Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.
  • If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.

Resources

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • John July 22, 2017 at 6:55 am

    It’s NOT even close to a “once-in-a-lifetime” event. Enough hype already! There was a FAR better one for St. George in 2011 and the next good one is in 2014. (And you might have taken the time to find the local circumstances.)

    • wilbur July 22, 2017 at 7:38 am

      2024 April 8, I believe, for another US eclipse, not 2014

    • Brian July 22, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      You’re confusing annular and partial solar eclipses with a total solar eclipse. In a total solar eclipse you’re in the shadow of the moon and everything goes dark, which is a very different experience from the eclipse in 2011 where the moon just obscured part of the sun.

      This is the closest the shadow of the moon will get to Utah until 2045 (which will cross right through the center of Utah, covering half the state): http://earthsky.org/space/total-solar-eclipses-in-the-usa

      From 1950 to 2050 there are / have been / will be a total of 8 total solar eclipses where the shadow of the moon will cross the continental US. So while it isn’t exactly a once-in-a-lifetime event, it very well could be the best opportunity in a lifetime for many people (ie. traveling the least distance to actually be in the shadow), and is the closest we’ll get to the sweet spot (the point of greatest eclipse).

      While there is one in 2024, for Utahn’s it will be 3x the travel distance to get there and the sweet spot is much further away:
      http://en.es-static.us/upl/2016/02/eclipses-map-US-2000-2050.gif

  • John July 23, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Thanks — 2024 is correct — I should have caught my typo. And I’m not confusing them; I’m comparing what is seen in SW Utah. If you’re willing to travel you can see plenty in a lifetime. I AM objecting to the over-hype. This is after all a *St. George* news outlet, so it might possibly want to focus on the local side of news. An honest headline — which this is not — would proclaim that this is a “rare” and very interesting event and you should make plans to see it. (And the “writer” of the piece might have gone to the trouble of finding out what SW Utahns will see.)

    • Brian July 31, 2017 at 7:47 am

      There is one way that this is a legitimate once-in-a-lifetime experience (and then some): This is the first eclipse since 1776 where the “path of totality” / shadow of the moon will make landfall exclusively in the US. To me that’s pretty cool! That’s quite the coincidence and definitely makes this eclipse special and rare, among other things.

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