Grab your protective eyewear (see below) and prepare for a once in a lifetime event! For the first time in 100 years, a small path in the American sky will experience a rare astrological phenomenon: a total solar eclipse will cast a shadow over a ribbon of our country as the eclipse travels from coast to coast for the first time since 1918.
For those of you who don’t know, total solar eclipses occur when a New Moon comes between the Sun and Earth and casts the darkest part of its shadow, the umbra, onto Earth. A full solar eclipse, known as “totality,” is almost as dark as night, and the air temperature outside can drop by as much as 15 degrees.
So how big of a deal is this event?
Many believe that a total eclipse of the sun is a rare occurrence. It actually isn’t.
A total solar eclipse is visible from some place on the Earth’s surface about once every 18 months (on average). That's about two totalities every three years. But how often a total solar eclipse is visible from a specific location on Earth is actually quite rare. Since the track of a solar eclipse is a very narrow path over the earth's surface, averaging only 60 or 70 miles in width, a total solar eclipse usually happens at any given place on Earth only once every 360 years. That’s rare indeed!
Check out this informative video by Vox to learn just how unique this event really is.
On Monday, August 21st, the solar eclipse will be visible in the United States starting just after 9:00AM (local time) in Madras, Oregon and will travel on a southwest trajectory across the continental U.S. until it reaches Columbia, South Carolina at about 1:00PM (local time). During this time, the sun will be completely eclipsed as the moon travels across the sky, and viewers on the moon’s path of “totality” will experience, for about 3 minutes, the “ring of fire” effect when the sun is completely covered by the moon’s path.
If you can’t travel to one of the points in the United States that will experience total darkness, you can experience a partial eclipse here in Sarasota, starting at 1:18 pm, with maximum coverage of the sun happening at about 2:50 pm.
Just remember, if you decide to watch it, wear protective eyewear, because sunglasses don’t work! Check out this webpage for more information.
We hope you enjoy this unique opportunity, because next total solar eclipse may not occur again in the U.S. for quite some time! Happy Viewing!