WASHINGTON, May 5, 2017 – Astronomy enthusiasts are getting ready for a spectacular visual treat on August 21st as a total solar eclipse, the first visible in the USA in the last forty years, takes place.
This is going to be a scintillating cosmic show for the millions of sky watchers here. The American skies would be darkened right from Oregon up to the South Carolina stretching across an expanse of 70 miles wide. People who happen to be in the path of totality are all set to encounter a memorable experience.
According to the experts, it is a golden opportunity to see the universe transform all around you. The last total solar eclipse that impacted the USA mainland took place on February 26 in 1979. However, the rarity of the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, is that it is going to be easily viewed by everyone from one coast to the other, for the very first time in the past 99 years.
An Exceptional Occurrence
Total solar eclipses take place as a coincidence of galactic geometry. The moon is supposed to be orbiting about 384,600 kilometers on an average from the Earth. Mostly you would come across partial solar eclipses. A partial solar eclipse takes place when the Earth is known to move right across the lunar penumbra while the moon is moving between the Sun and the Earth. In such a situation the solar disk is not blocked by the moon completely when seen from the Earth. You could be seeing anything from just a small slice of the sun to the sun being almost totally blotted out because of this celestial phenomenon depending on your precise location.
However, most of the solar eclipses are partial in nature in which the moon only claims a sliver of the sun’s disk. Every year around two to maybe five solar eclipses are known to occur, however, the total solar eclipses occur only once in every 18 months.
A Rare Cosmic Show
When the moon casts a shadow on the Earth and covers the sun up, it presents a wonderful opportunity for sky watchers to experience an incredibly splendid galactic spectacle. Moreover, the path of totality is pretty narrow and is mostly inaccessible to the enthusiastic sky watchers. That is simply on account of the fact that most of the Earth’s surface is covered by water.
So it is a really rare and a special event when the total solar eclipse is occurring over populated areas.
According to the experts, the Great American Solar Eclipse on 21st August 2017 would actually be the first occasion when the totality path would be lying fully within the USA since 1776. The totality path extends from the Oregon Coast right through places such as Idaho, Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and even South Carolina. Though only 12 million people are supposed to be living within this narrow band, around 220 million people are supposed to be residing just about a day’s drive away from it. Experts believe that the people who do not fall within the narrow band or the path of totality could surely be witnessing the partial solar eclipse.
Sky Watching Grants
An unprecedented interest is quite evident among sky watchers relating to the upcoming cosmic show. According to Angela Speck, director of astronomy, University of Missouri and a Co-chair at the AAS task force, they had received around 153 mini-grant proposals out of which they have already funded 31 projects so far. This would be spreading the eclipse fever throughout the USA. A lot of enthusiasm and creativity could be seen among the sky watchers. These grants would be going a long way in motivating youths to think about fruitful careers in technology, science, math and engineering.
This magnificent cosmic phenomenon would be providing a rare opportunity for researchers to study the sun’s outer atmosphere called the corona. Corona experiences temperatures over 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit. It has puzzled many scientists as to how the corona is heated up so much. Researchers and scientists are aiming to accumulate some valuable data and information during the upcoming total solar eclipse.
It is but natural that the great cosmic show is evoking a lot of interest among the sky watchers all across the USA. However, you need to be careful and must follow all safety dictates. If you are planning to observe the total solar eclipse on the 21st of August this year, you must not forget the fact that you should never look at the sun directly while the solar eclipse is on. Use No.14 welder’s glasses, solar filters, and eclipse glasses that are made particularly for this occasion. You could also, use a pinhole camera to indirectly observe the solar eclipse. You must necessarily use proper eye protection and follow all safety measures. Remember a little carelessness could cause permanent eye damage.
Author Bio: David Wicks is an editor at a reputed astronomy magazine. He has been writing a number of informative posts about the impending Great American Solar Eclipse. He is an avid blogger and all his recent posts are loaded with information. He is trying to educate his readers about the spectacular cosmic phenomenon.