August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse 

On Monday, August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will be visible within a band across the entire contiguous United States. This eclipse will only be visible in other countries as a partial eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon’s apparent diameter is larger than the sun’s, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth’s surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometers wide.

The last time a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire contiguous United States was during the June 8, 1918 eclipse, and not since the February 1979 eclipse has a total eclipse been visible from anywhere in the mainland United States. The path of totality will touch 14 states, although a partial eclipse will be visible in all fifty states. The total area of the path of totality will be about 16% of the area of the United States, although most of this area is over the ocean and not actually over the United States. The event will touch land on the Oregon coast as a partial eclipse at 9:06 a.m. PDT on August 21, and will end later that day as a partial eclipse along the South Carolina coast at about 4:06 p.m. EDT.

There are expected to be logistical problems with the influx of visitors, especially for smaller communities. There have also been problems with counterfeit eclipse glasses being sold.

Future total solar eclipses will cross the United States in April 2024 (12 states) and August 2045 (10 states), and annular solar eclipses—meaning the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun—will occur in October 2023 (9 states) and June 2048 (9 states).

The total eclipse will have a magnitude of 1.0306 and will be visible within a narrow corridor 70 miles (110 km) wide crossing fourteen states of the contiguous United States: Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It will be first seen from land in the US shortly after 10:15 a.m. PDT (17:15 UTC) at Oregon’s Pacific coast, and then it will progress eastward through Salem, Oregon; Casper, Wyoming; Lincoln, Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri; St. Louis, Missouri; Hopkinsville, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; and finally Charleston, South Carolina. (A partial eclipse will be seen for a greater time period, beginning shortly after 9:00 a.m. PDT along the Pacific Coast of Oregon.)

The longest duration of totality will be 2 minutes 41.6 seconds at about 37°35′0″N 89°7′0″W in Giant City State Park, just south of Carbondale, Illinois, and the greatest extent (width) will be at 36°58′0″N 87°40′18″W near the village of Cerulean, Kentucky, located in between Hopkinsville and Princeton. This will be the first total solar eclipse visible from the Southeastern United States since the solar eclipse of March 7, 1970, which was only visible from Florida.

A partial solar eclipse will be seen from the much broader path of the Moon’s penumbra, including all of North America, northern South America, Western Europe, and some of Africa and north-east of Asia.

During total eclipse the stars and 4 planets will be visible, including the star Regulus close to the Sun. Mars will be 8 degrees to the right, and Venus 34 degrees right. Mercury is 10 degrees left, and Jupiter 51 degrees left.


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